African Americans and their wheels
- African Americans and their wheels
by William Reed/Special to ETR
Automotive manufacturings sharp decline over the last 20 years hit African Americans particularly hard. Ford Motor Companys decision to implement another round of layoffs is bad news for Ford workers, and especially for African Americans.
Since the end of World War II, manufacturing jobs, particularly jobs in the auto industry, have been an important source of well-paid employment for African Americans.
Fords layoffs will have a disproportionate effect on African Americans as they continue to be especially hard hit by the loss of jobs in the auto industry. In 1979, 2.1 percent of all African-American workers were employed in automobile manufacturing. By 2004, this share had fallen by more than one-third to 1.3 percent. African American employment in all manufacturing fell from 23.9 percent to 10.6 percent of workers.
Blacks economic history is intertwined with the history of automobile production. Detroit, the Motor City, became one of the most important destinations for black migrants from the south. Ford and Dodge pioneered hiring black workers. During the early years, the vast majority of blacks worked for Ford, where even at the outset of World War II, they comprised 12 percent of the workforce. In Motown, and the Midwest, many African American families are in their third generation of middle-class lifestyles due to William Fords grandfather, Henry Ford, paying wages that nurtured formation of Americas middle-class.
African-Americans purchase cars at 12 times the rate of other Americans. So, its critical we take note of the impact our money has on the bottom lines of the companies that made the 17.2 million new cars and light trucks bought in the U.S. last year. GM, the worlds largest automaker, says its U.S. sales fell 10 percent in December and Ford, the second-biggest U.S. carmaker, sales dropped 9 percent. Toyotas sales rose 8.2 percent, helping Asian automakers take a record 36.5 percent of U.S. auto sales.
African American workers and consumers play a critical role in the industry. In the twentieth century, cars became a powerful symbol of African Americans economic success and symbol of making it in America. During the last century, the auto industry became one of the nations largest and most important employers of African Americans. But, with Bill Fords recent downsizing announcements, its time African Americans give some time and consideration to the $95 billion a year we currently spend in vehicle purchases. Big Three brands represent 55.8 percent of the top ten brands most purchased by African Americans: Nissan 12.5%; Chevrolet 11.6%; Toyota 9.5%;Ford 9.2%; Chrysler 7.7%; Honda 5.3%; Dodge 4.4%; Hyundai 3.8%; Cadillac 3.3% and GMC 3.2%. The ten models most often purchased by African Americans are: Nissan Altima 12.5%; Chrysler 300 3.3%; Ford F-Series (F150) 2.5%; Toyota Corolla 2.3%; Toyota Camry 2.1%; Honda Accord Sedan 2.1%; Chevrolet Trailblazer 1.8%; Dodge Ram 1500
Pickup 1.8%; Ford Explorer 1.8%.
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