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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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The Nadir, 1958

The Nadir, 1958

(p.147) 8 The Nadir, 1958
Disruption in Detroit

Daniel J. Clark

University of Illinois Press

In 1958, conditions in Detroit’s auto industry went from bad to worse. Unemployment often exceeded 15 percent, easily double the national rate. Rampant inflation made things worse. Well over 250,000 Detroiters were out of work most of the year, and for several months more than 300,000 were jobless. UAW contracts with automakers expired that summer, but unlike in 1955, during the 1958 recession the union had no leverage to combat layoffs. Nevertheless, many business leaders insisted that autoworkers had it too good. Desperate times also brought a resurgence of scapegoating, particularly targeting married women autoworkers. Skilled workers were especially upset, as two-thirds of them were laid off by late 1958. Industry forecasts predicted a grim future

Keywords:   Detroit, Autoworkers, 1958 recession, Layoffs, Unemployment, UAW, women autoworkers, skilled workers

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