From Middle Income to Poor: Downward Mobility Among Displaced Steelworkers
Allison Zippay charts the decline of displaced blue-collar workers, part of the fallout of the past decade's dramatic economic shift from manufacturing to an expanded, service-based economy. She challenges the widely held assumption that these workers have been absorbed into the post-industrial economy and raises questions regarding the real nature of their occupational transition. Actually a case study of the Shenango Valley in western Pennsylvania, where an estimated 6,600 jobs were lost due to plant closings, From Middle Income to Poor is unique in its coverage of the vital issue of economic dislocation. Zeroing in on long-term unemployment and income loss, Zippay finds that many of the displaced workers remain unemployed or underemployed and have slipped in status from middle-income to poor. The volume uses data gathered from interviews to explore how persons with a history of steady blue-collar employment have coped with economic dislocation and downward lifestyle shifts, and in the process presents a path-breaking community portrait of industrial displacement. Early chapters focus on blue-collar workers in the 1980s and the economic and social dimensions of the manufacturing decline. They describe the Shenango Valley community setting, mill work, mill workers, and how the lifestyles of the local residents have been shaped by long-standing blue collar traditions. Later chapters investigate the changes in income and employment that prompted a downward slide and examine the processes of rebuilding. Chapter Seven cites incidences of depression and other emotional distress as well as changes in perception of self and community. The final chapter discusses the implications of the findings and recommends actions that could improve the displaced workers' social and economic well-being. Sociologists, policy analysts, social workers, and those in the fields of labor relations, social welfare, and social economics will find that this intense scrutiny of the Shenango Valley has far-reaching implications for the national economy in the 1990s and beyond.
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agencies anger anxiety average benefits blue-collar workers Buhl changes coworkers decline depression described discouraged displaced industrial workers distress downward mobility earnings efforts emotional employed employees employment status experience factory federal feelings felt following the plant food stamps former mill workers frequently friends funding GATX groups guys hourly wages household income immigrants income and employment income loss increase initial interviewed job hunts job loss job search job training jobless JTPA labor lack life-style living manufacturing jobs manufacturing plant Mark Granovetter Mercer County moved National Castings neighbors organizations participation pension plant closings population poverty line problems programs public assistance Reagan respondents retraining sample service economy Sharon Shenango Valley shift social and economic social networks social service social support spouse steel steelworkers survey trickle-down economics U.S. Congress unemployed unemployment and income unemployment insurance union United Steelworkers Youngstown