Deindustrialization and the reorganization of occupations: The reorganization of the labor market in Oklahoma between 1970 and 1990*

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Marvin L. Cooke


*Originally printed in Free Inquiry in Creative Sociology 29(1).

Studies of deindustrialization generally assume that the decline of craft and laborer occupations is principally associated with a relative loss of
manufacturing jobs combined with a gain in service and trade jobs. This study tests this assumption in Oklahoma between 1970 and 1990 using a secondary analysis of U.S. Census data for the state as a whole and for Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Muskogee, Ardmore, and McAlester. Deindustrialization was found principally in Tulsa. Oklahoma City and McAlester lost a significant proportion of employment in the government sector. Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and McAlester each lost significantly more employment in craft and laborer occupations and gained more employment in managerial, professional, and technical occupations than can be accounted for by the change in the industrial distribution of employment alone. In most areas included in the study, employment in administrative support occupations decreased more than expected from changes in the distribution of employment by industry alone while
sales occupations increased. This additional change in the occupational
distribution was associated with the reorganization of occupations within
industries. Finally, a doubling of the rate of part-time workers occurred that
cannot be accounted for by the proportional change of employment by industry or by occupation within industries.

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