Higher places in the industrial machinery?: tight labor markets and occupational advancement by black males in the 1910s
The economic history of African American workers since 1940 has been marked by alternating episodes of progress and stagnation. Sharp gains in relative incomes during the 1940s were followed by little change in this measure in the 1950s. Renewed progress from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s was followed by a new period of stagnation and even decline in relative pay in the 1980s and early 1990s. The important episodes of progress were to a great degree driven by changes on the demand side of the labor market: rapid growth in labor demand-especially for blue-collar workers-during World War II and the effect of new antidiscrimination policies on the demand for black labor after 1965 (Donohue and Heckman 1991; Jaynes and Williams 1989: 294-96). This article examines whether the 1910s can be characterized as an early episode of demand-driven progress for black workers in the North.