Maryland and eight other state governments made work mandatory during 1917 and 1918, amid the labor shortage caused by so many men serving in World War I. Although many considered it a violation of personal liberty, the official unemployment rate dropped from 4.5% to 1.4% as a result.
For comparison, the official unemployment rate in December 2017 was 4.1% — the lowest rate since 2000. (A fuller measure of the unemployment rate pegs it 8.1% currently, but that’s still one of the lowest rates in years.)
So how come no states have compulsory work laws anymore? Such laws were declared illegal after World War I was over.
Maryland Law Which Makes Everybody Work: Conscription of the Unemployed Rich and Poor Has Begun in One State, and Congress Has Before It a Similar Plan for the Nation
From Sunday, January 13, 1918