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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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“What IS happening? Which way ARE we headed?” 1959–1960

“What IS happening? Which way ARE we headed?” 1959–1960

(p.166) 9 “What IS happening? Which way ARE we headed?” 1959–1960
Disruption in Detroit

Daniel J. Clark

University of Illinois Press

Despite the official end of the 1958 recession, massive unemployment persisted for Detroit's autoworkers amidst huge disruptions in production. Safety nets had long since frayed. Most autoworkers exhausted their unemployment benefits and few alternate employment options existed. Unemployed Detroiters lined up wherever there were job openings, no matter the type of work. Ford and GM, however, earned healthy profits, despite shutdowns caused by a national steel strike. The only bright spot in the industry, nationwide, was the trend toward fuel-efficient, compact cars. In mid-1960 the U.S. Department of Labor declared Detroit to be in the "worst-off" category among metropolitan areas. By the end of 1960, auto work remained precarious in the Motor City, and the postwar boom remained elusive.

Keywords:   Detroit, autoworkers, layoffs, 1959 steel strike, compact cars, postwar boom

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