A “Painfully Inconvenient” Recession, 1954

Daniel J. Clark

in Disruption in Detroit

Published by University of Illinois Press

Published in print September 2018 | ISBN: 9780252042010
Published online May 2019 | e-ISBN: 9780252050756 | DOI:
A “Painfully Inconvenient” Recession, 1954

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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

Chapter.  9103 words. 

Subjects: Social Movements and Social Change

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