NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

One in Six American Men Not Working

February 13, 2014

More than one in six men between the ages of 25 and 54 is unemployed, says the Wall Street Journal.

More than 10 million men ages 25 to 54 do not have jobs today, a function of the slow economy as well as technology and globalization, say economists.

  • In the early 1970s, 6 percent of American men 25 to 54 were unemployed.
  • By the end of 2007, 13 percent were out of work.
  • In 2009 at the peak of the recession, almost 20 percent of American men were without jobs.
  • In December 2013, that figure was at 17 percent. Two thirds of these men reported that they were not looking for work, which means that they are not labeled as "unemployed" in official unemployment statistics.

The more a person is unemployed, the bleaker their prospects become. In fact, 40 percent of men who are currently looking for jobs say that they have had no work for at least six months.

Many economists say that those who have little in the way of marketable skills are not able to find work that makes it worthwhile to "get them off the couch," especially if taking a job requires a move, a lengthy commute, or giving up government benefits.

The United States has also seen a rise in disability benefits over the years.

  • In 1989, only 3 percent of men who were between ages 25 and 64 collected federal disability benefits, but that number was at 5.5 percent in 2013.
  • Over 2 million of those men (half of that figure) were 54 years old or younger.
  • Once people begin receiving disability payments, very few return to work.
  • Even those whose disability benefits application is rejected are unlikely to return to work, according to research data.

Source: Mark Peters and David Wessel, "More Men in Prime Working Ages Don't Have Jobs," Wall Street Journal, February 6, 2014.


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