The demand for Singer’s products steadily declined after WWII for various reasons, and with it went near guaranteed employment for “Singer families”. At one time, almost every citizen in Elizabeth knew a relative, friend or neighbor that worked there. But by 1980, the company’s employee roster had shrunk to about 2,300 people, with Singer diversifying its business to the point that sewing machines were a very small part of the manufacturing operations in Elizabeth.
Singer Plant Closing: A Way of Life Ends read the headline February 19, 1982 in the New York Times
The Singer Company is closing its mammoth plant here. Moving on to a marketing strategy of more cost-effective foreign production and diversification in aerospace products, it is finished with this aging city now.
So intertwined have their lives become – this company and city – during their 109 years together that many people here can only shake their heads and say, as Morris Finkel did, “It just doesn’t seem possible.”
It has been more than a professional relationship, and the community now feels scorned. “Working at the Singer plant, was a way of life,” said Mr. Finkel, who was there for 44 years. “It was the natural thing for a young man coming out of high school to do. Everyone in town seems to have worked there at some point.”