Recycled working class

The working class were “recycled” in the transition from an industrial to service-based economy due to how they were expected to change how they worked with no warning. The United States had been industrialized for generations, and the working class worked in industrial based jobs. With deindustrialization, an entire generation that worked in industrial jobs and the upcoming generation that was just starting, were now fighting for a low number of existing jobs or were unemployed. In a sense, they had the rug pulled out from under them when it came to maintaining a job. Entire communities and cities had people who had either worked a certain job their entire life or had a very specific skill set, and now they were unable to work that job or use that skill set. They were completely unprepared for this shift in economic focus, which left a huge percentage of them unemployed.

The consequences that surrounded the shift in economy were vast. Thousands of people were laid off which left them with no income or way to provide for themselves. This led to people needing government assistance from welfare or unemployment money, so that they could continue to pay for basic necessities while looking for a new job, in an industry they have never worked in before. The number of people incarcerated skyrocketed and the majority of people going to jail were unemployed. With no job opportunities, a huge number of people under 30 decided to leave Pennsylvania entirely, in order to seek better opportunities and hope for a higher quality of life. Families that used to be able to survive on one income now required both father and mother to work, which was completely new to society. People also now had less access to health care and basic necessities because they could not afford them. Mental health care funding was completely cut and other healthcare programs were too expensive for the majority of people to afford. Hard-working families felt like they were at a complete disadvantage. Despite decades of work to increase the economy in the United States, suddenly everything changed and there was nothing they could do about it. 

Social welfare programs were so meager during this time because of how government spending was structured and its insecurity in the first place. Especially during the 1970s the government was still primarily focused on military spending which left little money for government programs designed to help people in financial crises. Social welfare programs had only existed for a few decades, so their build-up was still slowly progressing leaving it completely unprepared for the economic risk that resulted from the transition between an industrial based economy and a service based economy. These programs were still thought of as a last- resort emergency option for a small number of people, not as something that would have to be implemented to entire cities or mass groups of people. When large groups of people suddenly needed to be put on unemployment or welfare programs to support themselves when they lost their jobs because of the shift, the government was unprepared.

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