Thursday, February 6, 2014

Things have never been worse for men in their prime earning years

Men in their prime earning years are having unprecedented difficulty in making a living, let alone feeding their families.

The number of men aged 25-54 who are not employed is a staggering 10.4 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. We're all familiar with the reasons: 
Some had jobs that went overseas or were lost to technology. Some refuse to uproot for work because they are tied down by family needs or tethered to homes worth less than the mortgage. Some rely on government benefits. Others depend on working spouses….

The trend has been building for decades, according to government data. In the early 1970s, just 6% of American men ages 25 to 54 were without jobs. By late 2007, it was 13%. In 2009, during the worst of the recession, nearly 20% didn’t have jobs.
Things are a little better -- the unemployment rate among men in their prime earning years is now only 17 percent. But just getting a job isn't good enough these days. The number of breadwinning men who work in low-income jobs like Walmart or McDonald's is 3.65 million, according to   a study about to be released by researchers at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

 Today, 21 million people are the primary breadwinner in their households:
Over the last 30 years, the number of all U.S. workers has grown 40%, roughly in line with the adult population. But over that same time period, the number of low-wage workers who also live in low-income households has climbed 94%.
The Naked Capitalist nails it: 
The duration and severity of unemployment among men in their peak earning years suggests that there is both more suffering than is readily apparent, and that this group is also likely to wind up impoverished in their old age. These men, with their sense of identity often strongly vested in being producers and breadwinners, face a grim future in psychological as well as financial terms. To put it more bluntly, this level of unemployment is suicide futures.