VI. Stability and Decline, 1965-1980


B. The Industrial Landscape of the 1970s

The 1970s marked an increasing trend within the machining industries towards automation. Advances in technology allowed presses, more so than ever before, to perform multiple operations at a single location simply at the touch of a button. A single operator was required to press that button and make sure the machine ran smoothly. Although these advances had positive benefits, primarily in terms of safety for workers, increased automation also meant that fewer people were required to produce an equivalent output. As a result, companies reduced their numbers of hourly workers drastically.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was formed in 1970 and required companies to bring their equipment up to a level of compliance. As a result companies often replaced older machines (and jobs) with newer, more automated presses. OSHA did help companies' achieve higher levels of safety among its workers, an advance that can never be underestimated, particularly in an stamping plant. Although accidents became far less common during this period they still occurred, and these efforts to improve that, were important.

The 1970s also saw hints of the foreign competition that would swamp industrial markets during the 1980s. Foreign made compressors could often be manufactured abroad and shipped to America cheaper than they could be produced here. This is a economic trend that would continue to grow during the 1980s and 1990s and would force plants to find ways to cut costs and economize.

Anenergy crisis during the middle and end of the decade had sharp consequences in the metal working industry forcing plants to cut costs. A decreasing demand for luxury goods especially ones that used large amounts of electricity such as refrigerators and air conditioners, hurt production levels.

Asa result of massive government spending during on the Cold War and Vietnam, interest rates reached record highs and inflation hit the double digits. This made investment capital difficult to attain and made paying workers a living wage increasingly difficult.

Toledo Skyline, 1977

 

 

 


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