America’s missing male workers

In Part 2 of my “How Did We Get Here” series on Thursday it was mentioned that there are 7 million men who have quit looking for work. I couldn’t understand that given that our unemployment rate is at historic lows so I decided to look into this further and found  the quote below:

More than 7 million men between the ages of 25 and 54—prime working age—have dropped out of the labor force. That means they’re not only unemployed but have also given up looking for a job

Why aren’t they working?

2016-11-13_16-38-23.pngThere is no one single reason. Men have been dropping out of the workforce at roughly the same rate for the past half century, through boom times and recessions alike. The decline in manufacturing jobs has almost certainly played a role. In 1970, more than a quarter of American workers, most of them men, had jobs in factories. Today, it’s fewer than one in 10. Nevertheless, only one in seven men outside the workforce says a lack of available jobs is the reason he’s not working. Another problem is the explosion of America’s prison population. By some estimates, 12 percent of adult men have been convicted of a felony, not including those currently imprisoned. Employers are reluctant to hire ex-cons, so many of these men have found themselves virtually unemployable. 

Who supports them?

Their families and taxpayers. About 57 percent of men outside the workforce received some form of disability benefits in 2013, according to the Census Bureau. Overall, the number of Americans receiving disability has doubled to 8.8 million people since 1996, costing the federal government $260 billion per year. The U.S. now spends more on disability insurance than on food stamps and welfare combined. For others, especially younger men, it’s often relatives who pick up the slack. Some 70 percent of lower-skilled men in their 20s who didn’t have a job lived with a parent or close relative in 2014.

Source: THE WEEK – November 11, 2016

It is surprising to me how many reasons there are that men quit looking for jobs. It is also surprising to discover that this population has not changed much for many years! Only one in seven reasons given is the lack of jobs.  What are the other reasons?

Being a fiscal conservative I am pretty sure that the doubling of those on disability insurance in the last twenty years  needs to be investigated.  Are those now labeled as disabled really unable to hold down a job?  I suspect there is a lot of fraud in this number.  Too many people gaming the system?

I am personally familiar with the inability of those who have felony convictions unable to find employment. A good friend of mine is in that category.  When he was hooked on drugs and therefore got into trouble he was convicted of a felony. But for the last several years he has turned himself around and I am proud to call him my friend. He has applied for many jobs but only gotten one temporary part time one.

We need to recognize that when we hear the statistic that 7 million have left the workforce there are a number of reasons and almost all of them are not because of the lack of jobs…

2 thoughts on “America’s missing male workers

  • What about creating your own job? Like those “lost” manufacturing jobs, many do not require an advanced education (or even a high school education) if one is willing to work hard to make it go. Here are three examples that don’t even require much capital:

    – Handyman – can be self-employed or working for a small contractor. We have a couple we call on when needed. As near as I can tell, they are making a decent living.

    – Lawn or pool service – we have thousands of these businesses in Arizona. Many are immigrants, doing work that many of the “unemployed” consider below them.

    – Farm work – when Arizona and Georgia chased out the “illegals” out who were “stealing” jobs, crops often rotted in the fields as the unemployed whiners did not want to do that work.

    An advanced education opens more opportunities. After being laid off twice as an engineer, I started my own engineering consulting business and ran it for almost 30 years. It was a blast, and wasn’t that hard to do. Lived very frugally for a couple of years, and then it blossomed (but we still lived well within our means.)
    My family doctor did the same thing – one of the few with his own private family practice.

    Similar opportunities abound for those willing to work. After all, this IS the land of opportunity. My web designer came from Nepal (now a US citizen) and he and his wife started a very successful web business. He also employees old friends back in Nepal for coding, spreading the wealth around.

    I often wonder how much of the unemployment is due to lack of imagination or vision. Or is it that many people just want a “job” (and paycheck) but don’t really want to work. Easier to blame someone else, as we have witnessed in our recent election. My hard working farmer ancestors would not be amused.


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