READING, Pa. (AP) — For decades, American manufacturing was a surefire path to the middle class, especially for workers without college degrees. No more.
Globalization, automation and recession destroyed nearly 6 million manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2009, casting many displaced workers out of the middle class and, consequently, widening the income gap between the rich and everyone else.
Laid-off factory workers often find their skills outdated or no longer in demand, forcing them into lower-paying, lifestyle-crimping jobs in retail, warehousing, food service, health care and other fields.
That has played out in Reading an old Pennsylvania manufacturing hub where factories once made everything from hats to hardware.