Friday, February 11, 2011

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (xix)

By mid-May 1971, New York City was in an even deeper recession than it had been in the Summer of 1969, when the job market for recent young white liberal arts college graduates with a B.A. pretty much collapsed. By the late Spring of 1971, it had become almost as hard for recent young white high school graduates or community college graduates in New York City—or recent young white graduates of 4-year colleges with a B.A. in liberal arts (like myself)—to even find a permanent clerical office job in New York City anymore. And because of the 1971 economic recession, there were, of course, hardly any available blue-collar factory jobs in New York City for native-born U.S. English-speaking white workers (whom local bosses seemed to then feel would be more likely to demand higher wages and better working conditions than would U.S. workers who had just recently arrived from other countries who could not speak much English)—unless they had a family member or friend in one of the unions or factory shops who could arrange for them to get a position when another factory worker retired, quit, was fired, or died.

Not surprisingly then, when I started going through the New York Times Sunday want-ad section again in mid-May 1971—after shaving my beard off and getting a haircut so that I no longer looked like a hippie—there didn’t seem to be many jobs available for a man who was a liberal arts college graduate--on either a professional level or as some kind of office worker. And in the late Spring of 1971, if you were a young man in your early 20s, most New York City permanent job employers and temporary job employment agencies would still generally not be willing to hire you for either a clerk-typist or secretarial position on either a permanent or a temporary basis—no matter how fast the man could type—because of the discriminatory and sexist way the division of labor in the 1971 New York City office world still determined which sex would be hired for which jobs. Many U.S. newspapers had actually also only stopped dividing their want-ad employment pages in “male-wanted” and “female-wanted” categories less than ten years before 1971.

So if you were a young white male worker in the late Spring of 1971 who couldn’t land a professional job with your recent, practically worthless liberal arts B.A. or didn’t have a B.A. and just wanted some kind of office job, you were--given the 1971 economic recession--actually in a lot more economic trouble than a young white woman with a recent B.A. or a recent high school or community college diploma, who could just get dressed up and easily get hired--as either a receptionist (if she didn’t know how to type) or as a clerk-typist or secretary (if she knew how to type)—by the still usually male chauvinist or sexist white male office executives who dictated which job applicants should be hired by their personnel offices.