Thursday, May 23, 2019

Job Mobility for Slavic and Hungarian Steelworkers from 1900-1950

Below is another excerpt from my upcoming book on Johnstown by the numbers.  It is a discussion of the job mobility of East central European immigrants in the steel mills in Johnstown, PA from 1900-1950.  
 Ewa Morawska (1985) in For Bread with Butter: Life-Worlds of East Central Europeans in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, 1890-1940 thoroughly chronicles the struggles of East Central European Immigrants namely Slavic, Hungarian, and Austrian immigrants in the city in the early part of the 20th century.
Morawska (1985, p. 100) found that in the steel industry approximately 7% of East Central European immigrants who remained in the city moved up from unskilled or unspecified semiskilled laborers in the mills to semiskilled or skilled workers from 1900 to 1920.  She also looked at first generation immigrants who remained from 1915 to 1930 and for 2nd generation immigrants from 1920 to 1949/50.  These numbers are summarized in the tables below.  There were not enough first generation immigrants to follow from 1900 to 1930.  First generation immigrants tended to move from city to city, especially in the early days that they are in the US.
Table 1a shows how job mobility was for first generation immigrants from 1900 to 1920 and from 1915 to 1930 and for second generation from 1920 to 1949/50.  These were immigrants who remained in the city during the periods in which they were tracked in the Census and the city directories.  The numbers on the observed side of the table are the actual shifts of immigrants from unskilled or unspecified semiskilled to semiskilled or skilled, vice versa, and immobile (no change in employment status in the mill over the period).  The Expected with no Discrimination side of the table shows what the numbers that would be if the overall mobility rates were the same as they were for western European immigrants or native workers (no discrimination).
Table 1a
Job mobility from unskilled or unspecified semiskilled to skilled or semiskilled steelworkers for 1st & 2nd generation East Central European Immigrants (Morawska, 1985, pp. 100, 164, 166)
Observed %
Expected % with no Discrimination
Period
upward mobility
downward mobility
immobile
upward mobility
downward mobility
immobile
1900-1920 1st gen
7
4
89
21
2
77
1915-1930 1st  gen
10
4
86
20
4
76
1920-1949/50 2nd gen
17
14
69
31
10
59

            The upward mobility rates for both first generation periods were considerably lower than they were for the second generation and for the numbers we would expect if there were no discrimination.  The downward mobility numbers were higher for second generation mill workers than for first generation workers and for what would be expected if there were no discrimination.  The downward mobility numbers were identical for the 1900-1920 and the 1915-1930 periods for the first generation were both nearly identical to what would be expected if there were no discrimination.
Reference
Morawska, E. (1985).  For Bread with Butter:  Worlds of East Central Europeans in

Johnstown, Pennsylvania, 1890-1940.  Cambridge: New York.


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