NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Vanishing Male Worker

December 15, 2014

Since the late 1960s, the portion of working-age men (between 25 and 54 years of age) who are out of the workforce has more than tripled and sits at 16 percent today. Binyamin Applebaum of the New York Times reports on the growing number of men who are not working in today's economy. 

There are many men and women among the 30 million unemployed Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 who are anxious to find work, but there are also a number who are not so anxious -- according to a new poll from the New York Times, CBS News and the Kaiser Family Foundation:

  • Thirty-four percent of unemployed adults in the 25-to-54 age group want a full-time job.
  • Twenty-three percent want a part-time job.
  • Twenty percent "will want a job in the future."
  • Twelve percent don't want a job now, or in the future.
  • Of those who were unemployed but able to work, just 67 percent said they wanted a full-time job and 19 percent wanted a part-time job.

Applebaum cites a number of factors that have increased the number of men not seeking work, including the increased availability of disability benefits and the drop in marriage rates (meaning there are fewer children to provide for). He also notes that technology, as well as competition abroad, has reduced the number of high-paying, low-skilled jobs that many men would have taken in years past. According to the New York Times poll, 85 percent of unemployed men in their prime do not have bachelor's degrees, while 34 percent have criminal records.

Source:  Binyamin Applebaum, "The Vanishing Male Worker: How America Fell Behind," New York Times, December 11, 2014.


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