Friday, September 10, 2021

1950 US Census: Which Ancestors Were Working?

One of the key questions I hope will be answered by the release of 1950 US Census in April of 2022 is which of my ancestors were working, and their occupations.

Overall trends in 1950 employment

Shown in the above table from a US Census special report issued in 1953 is a comparison of how many men and women in each age group (14 and older) were working in 1950, compared with 1940. These aggregate statistics provide context for understanding the situations of my ancestors who were enumerated in 1950.

Notice that in the lower bar chart, significantly more women were working in 1950 (solid black bar) compared with the number working in 1940. The big exception is women aged 20-30ish. 

Given the unprecedented Baby Boom that took place from 1946 on, I suspect these women were taking care of children and homes, not working outside the home in 1950. That was the general pattern in my family tree, although some women were in the work force in addition to being wives and mothers. In most cases, my female ancestors were working as teachers, I understand from family documents and stories.

Occupations and "not working"

I'll be interested to see not just who's working, but what occupations they were pursuing. For the teachers, enumerators were supposed to note the subject being taught--a bonus detail for me as the family historian.

The Census also noted when people over age 14 were not working, and why. Enumerators the reason why someone was not in the labor force, classified as (1) keeping house, (2) unable to work, (3) in an institution, or (4) "other" - meaning students, retired, seasonal workers, etc. 

I expect a number of my ancestors to be in the "other" category of reasons for not working, due to retirement or being full-time students. 

Can't wait to find out when the 1950 Census is released next year.

-- "Work" is Amy Johnson Crow's theme for this week in the #52Ancestors challenge.

1 comment:

  1. I'm also looking forward to the release of the 1950 census. It will take time to get it all indexed, but if you know the persons enumeration district we can search the pages ourselves.