As the manufacturing footprint in the working class has shrunk, so has the white male archetype that has historically defined the working class. Today’s working class is more female and racially diverse – with whites comprising less than 60% of the working class, down from nearly 9 out of 10 in 1970. Similarly, two-thirds of working-class women are in the paid labor market, up from less than half in 1970.
Put simply, the working class shifted from “making stuff” to “serving and caring for people” – a change that carried significant sociological baggage. The long-standing “others” in our society – women and people of color – became a much larger share of the non-college-educated workforce. And their marginalized status in our society carried over into the working class, facilitating the invisibility and devaluing of their work.