Tags: male | work force | participation | job

CNNMoney: Men Disappearing From the Work Force

By Michelle Smith   |   Thursday, 20 Jun 2013 08:10 AM

The male labor pool has been dwindling for over 50 years, and thus far, the economic recovery is not causing men to flock back to work, according to CNNMoney.

In 1956, the labor participation rate for males of about 98 percent meant almost every man 25 to 54 years old was working or looking for a job. In the decades that followed, the numbers slid.

The financial crisis aggravated matters and in 2012, the rate slid to a post-war record low of 88 percent, CNNMoney reported.

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You should a pay attention when data are at the lowest or highest level in years, advised a Wall Street Journal blog post last September.

It was referring to labor statistics from the previous month. Overall, in August 2012, labor participation dropped to 63.5 percent of the adult population, the lowest rate since 1981.

And narrowing the scope to males revealed a labor participation rate that fell shy of 70 percent. That's the lowest on record, The Journal reported.

Where has the male labor force gone, one may ask.

A lot of them went to prison. Since the financial crisis, a growing percentage of men realized they are disabled and became participants of the federal disability system. And still others have simply given up looking for a job

"A lot of non-college men have chosen not to work rather than participate in jobs that don't pay that well and are not very satisfying," David Autor, an economics professor at MIT and co-author of Wayward Sons, told CNNMoney.

The declining male labor pool is attributed to many factors, including the fact that the United States has notably shifted from being an economy with abundant, lucrative blue-collar jobs to a skilled-labor economy.

But it is not just those lacking degrees who decide not to look for jobs and earn wages. The participation rate of men over 25 who hold at least a bachelor's degree fell from 87 percent in May 1992 to 80 percent last month, according to CNNMoney.

"The proportion of guys doing nothing has risen," Gary Burtless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told CNNMoney.

Though this may seem personal, the consequences extend far beyond the men choosing this path. The lost tax revenue, reduced consumer spending and wasted skills take a toll on the economy. Since many unemployed men don't want stable families, the growing number of single-parent households is increasing, which takes a toll on society.

It's "bad news for the overall spirit and optimism of pretty much everyone," The Journal noted.

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