Getting Work: Philadelphia, 1840-1950

2000
University of Pennsylvania Press

How did working people find jobs in the past? How has the process changed over time for various groups of job seekers? Are outcomes influenced more by general economic circumstances, by discriminatory practices in the labor market, or by personal initiative and competence?

To tackle these questions, Walter Licht uses intensive primary-source research—including surveys of thousands of workers conducted in the decades from the 1920s to the 1950s—on a major industrial city for a period of over one hundred years. He looks at when and how workers secured their first jobs, schools and work, apprenticeship programs, unions, the role of firms in structuring work opportunities, the state as employer and as shaper of employment conditions, and the problem of losing work. Licht also examines the disparate labor market experiences of men and women and the effects of race, ethnicity, age, and social standing on employment.