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Disruption in DetroitAutoworkers and the Elusive Postwar Boom$
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Daniel J Clark

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042010

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042010.001.0001

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No Longer the Arsenal of Democracy, 1951–1952

No Longer the Arsenal of Democracy, 1951–1952

(p.54) 3 No Longer the Arsenal of Democracy, 1951–1952
Disruption in Detroit

Daniel J. Clark

University of Illinois Press

During the Korean War, autoworkers experienced persistent layoffs while inflation increased the cost of living. Government allocations of raw materials did not favor the auto industry, and most military contracts did not to go to Detroit factories. Despite dire warnings from industrialists, union leaders, and civic officials, tens of thousands of people, motivated by memories of Detroit as the Arsenal of Democracy during WWII, migrated to the city. At one point in 1952, 10 percent of all unemployment in the nation was in metro-Detroit. Then the 1952 steel strike eliminated auto production. In the background, automation continued to eliminate jobs. Nevertheless, the auto industry revived in late 1952 and there was suddenly a labor shortage.

Keywords:   Korean War, autoworkers, Detroit, Arsenal of Democracy, layoffs, inflation, automation, 1952 steel strike

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