In the First World War farmers broke new land and, with state assistance, began to mechanize their operations. Mechanization was one attempt to make up for the shortage of farm help caused by enlistment and by the drift of workers to cities in search of employment in the war industry. City teenagers were sent into the country to assist with the harvest.
At the same time, the booming war factories were in desperate need of skilled tradesmen, too many of whom had been allowed to enlist before their greater value at home had been recognized. One result was that large numbers of women were brought into war factories, and “aliens”— immigrants who were often unacceptable for military service because of their nationality — took factory jobs. Another result of the labour scarcity was that wages rose, although not as much as the cost of living. Yet because conditions in the plants were often terrible, labour unrest was widespread.


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