In the aftermath of the 2016 election, many have attributed President Donald Trump’s electoral victory to the anger of the working class, calling for progressives to dedicate themselves to winning back these voters. Often, whether implicitly or explicitly, these calls have been focused on a certain subset of the working class. For some, including President Trump during his campaign, “working class” has effectively become shorthand for white male workers in the goods-producing industries of manufacturing, construction, and mining.
But in reality, the U.S. working class—defined for this analysis as participants in the labor force with less than a four-year college degree—is more diverse than ever and growing more so. Since 1960, the industrial work that has often been discussed by policymakers on the campaign trail has been shrinking as a share of working-class employment; in fact, it has never made up the majority of U.S. working-class jobs. As a result of these trends, white male workers in industrial sectors now comprise just 11 percent of the broad working-class labor force.This article was originally published in CAP Action.