A Few Reasons Why 2023 Might Go Down As The Year Of The Working-Class

Several successful strikes helped secure some significant gains. A Few Reasons Why 2023 Might Go Down As The Year Of The Working-Class Shutterstock

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Let’s get something out of the way immediately: Inflation has been a huge burden to folks from all walks of life in recent years, making it difficult to afford life’s necessities.

But despite it all, last year was filled with some pleasant surprises for blue-collar workers, many of whom are entering 2024 in a much better position than a year ago.

The union factor

One major reason so many Americans made substantial gains during 2023 was the impact that strikes (or threats of strike) played in contract negotiations across multiple industries.

  • More than half a million workers took part in a strike last year.
  • Autoworkers secured several important concessions from the Big Three automakers.
  • Hollywood writers and actors scored protections during their months-long strike.

Despite pushback from the corporations themselves, unions were also able to gain a foothold in other workplaces, including a number of Starbucks locations.

Workers have felt empowered since widespread labor shortages emerged during the pandemic shutdowns, and that helped fuel the unionization efforts behind some of the gains achieved over the course of the past 12 months.

Economics 101

Of course, none of these strikes would have been successful if not for the robust economic landscape that defied most predictions. As 2023 began, analysts far and wide said it was only a matter of time before the unemployment rate started to spike and the U.S. would be mired in a recession.

But those forecasts haven’t come true. Instead, the jobless rate has remained at historic lows not seen in nearly 60 years and the broad middle class has largely reaped the rewards.

None of this should suggest that the rich aren’t still getting richer off the work of blue-collar Americans. Nevertheless, 2023 offered some hope that a rising economic tide will lift all boats.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee January 2nd, 2024
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