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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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A “Painfully Inconvenient” Recession, 1954

A “Painfully Inconvenient” Recession, 1954

(p.90) 5 A “Painfully Inconvenient” Recession, 1954
Disruption in Detroit

Daniel J. Clark

University of Illinois Press

During the 1954 recession, tens of thousands of Detroit autoworkers experienced prolonged layoffs and relied on unemployment pay and secondary jobs. Industry officials and civic leaders denied that there was a recession, blamed any problems on negative thinking, and tried to convince the public that volatility in the auto industry was normal and of no great concern. Many Detroiters blamed working women and southern white migrants for high unemployment. Automation contributed to joblessness, while some UAW skilled workers benefited from building the new machinery. The demise of independent automakers and local auto suppliers resulted in thousands of additional lost jobs. While many autoworkers returned to work late in the year, most remained concerned about how long the upswing would last.

Keywords:   Detroit, Autoworkers, 1954 recession, Layoffs, Automation, Decentralization, independent automakers, southern white migrants, auto suppliers, skilled workers

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