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Magazine looks at Rockwell to understand the state of U.S. manufacturing

June 5, 2013
An article in The Atlantic contrasts Allen-Bradley then with Rockwell Automation now, and the impact on working-class Milwaukee.

An article on the website of The Atlantic takes a look at troubles the author sees in the resurgence of U.S. manufacturing by examining changes in the role Allen-Bradley and Rockwell Automation have played in the Milwaukee employment picture.

In a piece titled “This Is the Way Blue-Collar America Ends” writer Sophie Quinton describes how the space once filled with production-line workers during U.S. manufacturing’s heyday is now filled with white-collar workers in engineering, marketing and management. In the process, she somehow finds a way to imply that Rockwell, a success story of American manufacturing by any measure (as she seems to concede), exemplifies a failure to provide enough middle-income jobs to keep Milwaukee working.

“A company like Rockwell Automation creates wealth and jobs all over the world, which is great for the world--and for shareholders-- but not always so great for Milwaukee. The city's number one economic problem is a lack of middle-income jobs, and no industry has yet emerged to replace the jobs the traditional manufacturing sector used to provide.”

It’s an interesting read, whether or not you share the writer’s nostalgia for a blue-collar American job market that no longer prevails, and might have been a useful entry point for a discussion about the dislocation between the education of American workers and the jobs available to them.

This Is the Way Blue-Collar America Ends, by Sophie Quinton, The Atlantic