Iowa: Twentieth Century Developments

After 1900, a coal mining industry began to emerge in Buxton, located in the state’s northern Monroe County. Many southern and eastern immigrant groups went into the industry’s low-skilled jobs because they did not require much training. Italian men often immigrated to the United States alone, working in the coal industry until they saved enough money to send for their families. By 1925, Iowa’s coal industry was beginning a steady decline. By the mid-1950’s, only a few underground mines remained in the state. After World War II, the state’s economy improved with a rise in the manufacturing sector, which manufactured such products as appliances, fountain pens, food products, and farm implements.

The late twentieth century saw an influx of Hispanic immigrants in Iowa. Many of them were undocumented. In May, 2008, federal immigration authorities raided Agriprocessors, Inc, the nation’s largest kosher meatpacking plant. and rounded up 389 illegal immigrants, who faced deportation. The raid also found that the plant used underage workers and abused Iowa labor laws in other ways.

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