Essay on Japanese American Internment: The Economic Consequences

1092 Words 5 Pages
United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt once proclaimed that the Pearl Harbor bombings that took place on December 7th, 1941 is, “ a date which will live in infamy.” The events that unfolded that fateful morning not only resulted in a U.S declaration of war against Japan the next day (subsequently promoted Germany/Italy to declare war against U.S three days later), but also proved to be a traumatic landmark event in the history of Japanese Americans. The aftermath of the Pearl Harbor bombings prompted Franklin D. Roosevelt to authorize Executive Order 9066 on February 19th, 1942, which consequently cleared they way for Japanese American internment. In Hawaii, where Japanese Americans made up one-third of the population, only 1200 to …show more content…
The internees had no idea how long they were going to be kept there and were also expected/encouraged to work. There, “ was a fixed wage scale in the camps of $12/month for unskilled labor, $16/month for skilled labor, and $19/month for professional employees...in addition, the camps offered few good jobs…and wages paid in camp were substantially below the market wage.” Poor wages as well as internees being underutilized led to the loss/deterioration of skill sets. Internees also had little motivation to work hard for a system that had such little faith/trust in them. There was a, “loss of advantageous job matches…the internment could have separated workers from jobs for which they were especially suited, such as jobs for which they had developed much firm-specific human capital or jobs that they had obtained after a costs research search process. This probably would have applied more for older internees who may have owned a business or farm before internment, and was never recovered as a result. It may have also applied to young internees who were just starting their career, which they ultimately had to relinquish due to internment. The work experience gained in camps was a poor substitute for work experience gained in the civilian labor market, which in turn set them back as they tried to reenter the labor market. Though the same processes that had hurt internee’s earnings potential might have also be benefited them as well.

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