The wartime economy reversed itself with the end of the war, and the country experienced a small depression with high unemployment. Employment in California had grown from 2.2 million in 1940 to a high of 3.3 million in 1943. It then declined to a little over 3 million by 1947. In 1946, California had an unemployment rate of 8.8% compared to a national average of 3.9%. In 1947 – after most GIs had returned home – over 400,000 Californians remained unemployed, and 767,000 claimed unemployment benefits, the second highest in the nation.
Most veterans hoped for a speedy return to a civilian life, some of them deciding to stay on in the Golden State after the war in order to find new opportunities. Returning veterans also expected to find employment or retraining opportunities as they reentered an uncertain economy. Many were aided by the famous GI Bill and various state programs.