Pittsburgh and Deindustrialization

Many industrial cities during the 1970s and 1980s transitioned from being industrial to more of a service based economy. The article focuses on Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during this transition. The main industry of Pittsburgh was steel manufacturing. However, customers began to buy cheaper steel from elsewhere or even had it imported into the country. Because of this, production became low and steel mills struggled to keep their doors open. Many people were let off. In one steel mill, the number of employees was in the thousands at its max. It ultimately dropped to just a few hundred workers. According to the article, there were around 150,000 jobs that were not being filled because of the deindustrialization. Something that I found interesting is that Pittsburgh seemed to have financially recovered from the deindustrialization. Towns such as Gary, Indiana and Flint, Michigan both suffered from the deindustrialization. However, they never seemed to have recovered very well. I think around one quarter of all buildings and houses in Gary, Indiana are currently sitting abandoned. 

The economic, political, and social effects of deindustrialization are as follows. First, the economic effect of deindustrialization negatively impacted many Americans. Since they could not work, they could not make money. Many working men decided to move to a different area so that they could send money back to their home. One man in the article lamented that he worked all his life and all he had to show for it was his beat up truck. Something that was interesting to me is that women began working more regularly. And, that the deindustrialization did not affect women as much. This social change can also be seen in the movie we watched for class. The mother decides to pick up a few hours at the local restaurant. This angered the father as he was to be the primary breadwinner. 

Another thing I noticed in the article is how desperate the men are for work. They would create signs with their skills and talents written on it and walk around town to showcase their abilities. This meant that a very skilled welder would put things such as gardener, janitor, child care, etc. They were not qualified to do those jobs but because of the deindustrialization, they would lie to get any work that they could.

I think the response to all the layoffs and unemployment from social welfare and government programs were meager due to the low economic status of Pittsburgh during the time. They simply could not afford to support their own citizens. Also, there is a racial aspect to this situation as well. The government did want to support the African-Americans.

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