The Working Class That Wasn't [CityLab.com]

 

A grizzled face, smudged grey with the factory soot. Hands that are calloused from making things—things that Make America Great. This person is, of course, white.

In the popular imagination, this is the portrait of a “working class” American—a figure that political leaders say will benefit from their policies; the same one that props up the myth of bootstrapping—the hardworking, real American who is deserving of help; and the one whose “economic anxieties” are commonly cited to justify the popularity of racist politicians.

It is also not truly representative of who actually makes up the working class—and hasn’t been for a long time.

new brief by the Center of American Progress, a liberal think tank, lays out the demographics of workers without college degrees—and how they have changed over time. A fact that may come as a surprise to some: those employed in the industrial sector—in factory, construction, or mining jobs—didn’t make up the bulk of this group even in the early 20th century. In 1940, only a third of the working class did these jobs; almost half worked in service and the rest, in agriculture.



[For more of this story, written by Tanvi Misra, go to https://www.citylab.com/equity...infographics/547559/]

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