Business in the 1950s: Analytical Essay

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Business in the 1950s

“Buy when everyone else is selling and hold until everyone else is buying. That’s not just a catchy slogan. It’s the very essence of successful investing” (Ruth). This is a quote from J. Paul Getty an oilman, who was the richest individual in America in 1957. He founded the Getty Oil Company. His large business was very successful because of his smart investing habits. Smart techniques, workers, and the public fueled large and small businesses in the 1950s. I am talking about small and large businesses in America, not around the world. Monopoly: the exclusive possession or control of the trade or supply in a commodity or service is the best term used to describe business in the 1950s. Businesses at the time were all trying to reach a monopoly of their trade/industry. Most iconic brands in our nation’s history are still around today. Such as Denny's was founded: in 1953; Dunkin’ Donuts was founded: in 1950; Sonic Drive-In was founded: in 1953; Holiday Inn was founded: in 1952; and H&R Block was founded: in 1955. Businesses in the 1950s provoked it to be the decade of progress and change in America.

First of all, the 1950s offered most people the ability to purchase all sorts of goods and services, such as televisions and cars. As the industrial world evolved, assembly lines were created as well as an increase in factories in the States. The production of cars in the U.S. jumped, and by 1960, 80% of American families had at least one car and 15% had two or more. Many companies were mass producing cars and “Among the ten largest employers in 1955… none could have existed or been nearly as large as they were without the insatiable appetite for American-made cars” (“America’s Biggest Companies”). Along with the rising popularity of cars, television became more common in the 1950s. TVs gave manufacturers a new powerful, affordable outlet to advertise their products. TVs were present in 90% of homes and was the favorite hobby of nearly half the population. During the 1950s, a sense of uniformity pervaded American society.

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Furthermore, companies big and small needed workers, to manage their assets, work their assembly lines, or sell their products to the public. Most men worked in blue-collar 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” (“Business and Jobs”). In 1955, GM held more than three million jobs in the US and had more than 50% of American auto sales. Women in the 1950s mostly worked as secretaries, bank tellers, sales clerks, private household workers, nurses, and teachers. Men and women in the 50s were very dedicated to their jobs, and many stayed working for the same company until retirement.

Lastly, during the decade small businesses started and grew, while major corporations were merging, becoming larger, more profitable, and more powerful. Americans have different views on businesses which most “Believe today, both inside and outside the business world, that the business enterprise, exists for the sake of the contribution which it makes to the welfare of society as a whole” (“Learning to Love Big Business”). The number 1 car company in the US used to be the number 1 car company in the world; General Motors. US Steel was the largest company in its industry worldwide and was among the Fortune 50 in 1955. Fortune 50 ranks the best global companies based on their potential for long-term growth. Billy Graham founded Evangelistic Association (BGEA) in 1950 in a small office with only one secretary, eight years later he employed 200 people, had a TV show, and made 2 million dollars a year. People who had the right mindset and smart investing habits normally had a successful business.

To conclude, the excitement and prosperity in America in the 1950s brought a sense of confidence. The government helped boost this confidence by imposing price controls on commonly used goods to slow quickly rising costs. The government also passed laws to prevent corporate takeovers from being too overpowering in the market. In 1945, after WWII ended, our nation began to prosper and thrive, and in a few short years, Americans began to see changes in the economy. Overall, businesses in the 1950s showed how America changed from a nation of stagnation and poverty to a nation of progress and prosperity.

Works Cited

  1. “America's Biggest Companies, Then and Now (1955 to 2010).” 247wallst.Com, 24/7 Wall St., 21 Sept. 2010, Web.
  2. Atkinson, Robert D., and Michael Lind. 'Learning to Love Big Business.' Atlantic Monthly, Apr. 2018, pp. 22. SIRS Issues Researcher, Web.
  3. Conroy, Jane McMaster. “Business and Jobs in the 1950s.” Career Trend, 25 July 2017, Web.
  4. Dia, Aminata. “The 15 Iconic American Brands That Were All Launched in the 1950s.” The Hive, Vanity Fair, 30 Jan. 2015, Web.
  5. Lock, Cheryl. “The Most Common Job for Women Is the Same as It Was in 1950.” The Week - All You Need to Know About Everything That Matters, The Week, 6 Feb. 2013, Web.
  6. Magnus, Charles. A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 - 1875, Web.
  7. Vatter, Harold G. The U.S. Economy in the 1950's: An Economic History. Praeger, 1984. Print.
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