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Business and Jobs in the 1950s

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Business and jobs in the 1950s differed significantly from what we see today. Comparatively, mom and pop shops thrived, men were the primary breadwinners and diversity in the workforce was lacking.


During the 1950s, there was a sense of confidence within the business community that almost any problem could be solved quickly. The government helped boost this confidence by imposing price controls on commonly used goods to slow quickly rising costs. They also passed antitrust regulations to prevent corporate takeovers from strangling competition in the market place. Small businesses were also abundant, including mom and pop stores such as newsstands, candy stores, shoe repair shops, drug stores and food markets. People shopped locally back then, and the small stores thrived.


Men had jobs similar to those of today, without the computer and technology field, which wasn’t nearly what it is today. Jobs were mainly industrial or agricultural, with many men working in blue-collar jobs as mechanics, plumbers, bus drivers, warehouse workers and road construction workers. Some worked in office jobs as executives and middle management. If women did work, they were secretaries, teachers, nurses, stewardesses and stenographers.

The Economy

After World War II, America began to prosper, and by 1950 people generally recognized that the nation's economy affected every American personally. Job security, how much workers earned, and the cost of goods were all directly related to the health of the economy, and during the 1950s, the American economy was the strongest in the world.

Work Ethic

Workers in the 1950s were dedicated to their jobs, and many stayed with the same company for their entire career. They believed in following the rules, abiding by the law, and showing respect for authority in and outside of the workplace. Workers were also more formal than workers today, and those who worked in an office wore suits and ties everyday. Unlike workers today, they weren’t as aware of diversity in the workplace or of thinking globally, nor did they think too much about balancing work and their personal lives.


Jane McMaster Conroy is a communications and marketing professional with extensive writing experience in real estate, mortgage financing, the economy and business. She also freelances for several major companies, including AAA MidAtlantic. Conroy is a former blogger for the Philadelphia Phillies and has also has published several works of fiction.

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