The s were centered in the post-war baby boom , with an average of about 4 million births annually throughout the decade. From to , a total of about 77 million new " baby boomers " were born, dramatically increasing the demand for automobiles for the new families. Although it lasted for only 53 days, the steel strike caused the National Production Authority NPA to limit the amount of steel available to automakers, and had a broad effect before and after the strike.
During the run up to the strike, unemployment in Detroit jumped to 8. Auto employment dropped by another , during the strike, which ended on June 2, While the strike was for better wages for steel workers, many auto workers blamed their unions for layoffs. The auto manufacturers were accused of speeding up work during these period of heavy layoffs, which resulted in a number of wildcat strikes. The Recession of was in part due to dramatic declines in the automotive industry during and early It had been a record year for sales in with the industry selling almost 8 million automobiles, but this extraordinary surge in sales served to reduce demand in the following few years.
Sales had declined to 6. Manufacturing had declined 47 percent by the end of the recession , and Michigan experienced 11 percent unemployment, the highest of any state at that time. The s mark the peak of union membership as a percentage of the total US workforce, with labor membership peaking at 35 percent of the nonagricultural workforce by mid-decade.
By , almost all UAW workers had health coverage and other benefits that didn't exist in the automotive industry previously. Pension plans were established, as well as a Supplemental Unemployment Benefits fund, which supplemented employees unemployment insurance during periods of layoff.
A series of pivotal strikes took place during the decade, including the Chrysler Strike which lasted days between January and May and centered around the UAW's demand that Chrysler pay a pension to retired workers, as well as other benefits. A first for the UAW, the union paid striking workers benefits during the strike, dangerously depleting its cash reserves.
In the end, Chrysler capitulated on the main issue, but not before the strike had disastrous consequences for the automaker. During the s, racial discrimination was common throughout America and the auto industry was not immune. African-Americans were typically offered only the lowest paying jobs or were outright denied employment as employers openly advertised for " white only " applicants. Workplace discrimination was not universal, but it was widespread and it was not until that listing racial preferences in job advertising became illegal under Michigan law.
Still, hiring practices varied according to the individual plant managers, so some factories were relatively integrated while others had virtually no black employees. Although unions fought for the end of racial discrimination, manufacturers were free to openly discriminate in their hiring until the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
A few automobiles introduced in the s have had an impact that extends well beyond the decade. By being continuously recognized or reinvented, they have created a following of admirers that often spans multiple generations. The Studebaker Starliner hardtop was introduced in and is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful American-made automobiles of the s. It was designed by a team led by famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy and is sometimes called the "Loewy Coupe".
The Chevrolet Corvette was first introduced in ,  and as of the model year is still in production. The Ford Thunderbird was introduced in and remained in production until Production resumed in and continued through the model year. There were eleven  or twelve  different generations during these time spans. Unlike the Corvette, the Thunderbird was not marketed as a sportscar , but rather as a personal luxury car. Chrysler produced the first of its series automobiles for the model year, whereby they added a letter to the model name for each year.
The non-letter models were produced through the model year. It would be 20 more years before they again used the name, this time for the Chrysler M , which was produced for the through model years. Finally in the model year, the Chrysler was introduced and as of , is still in production. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Main article: Automatic transmission. Main article: Power window.
Main article: Seat belt. Main article: Automobile air conditioning. Main article: Power steering. Main article: s American automobile culture. Main article: steel strike.
The Top 10 Luxury Cars of the 1950s
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Cars we loved in the 1950s
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