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Monday, August 29, 2011

The American working man slowly fades away


As women saw workplace gains in recent decades, men’s prospects have diminished

By Mike Dorning

updated 8/28/2011 2:48:52 PM ET

As President Barack Obama puts together a new jobs plan to be revealed shortly after Labor Day, he is up against a powerful force, long in the making, that has gone virtually unnoticed in the debate over how to put people back to work: Employers are increasingly giving up on the American man.

If that sounds bleak, it’s because it is. The portion of men who work and their median wages have been eroding since the early 1970s. For decades the impact of this fact was softened in many families by the increasing number of women who went to work and took up the slack. More recently, the housing bubble helped to mask it by boosting the male-dominated construction trades, which employed millions. When real estate ultimately crashed, so did the prospects for many men. The portion of men holding a job — any job, full- or part-time — fell to 63.5 percent in July — hovering stubbornly near the low point of 63.3 percent it reached in December 2009. These are the lowest numbers in statistics going back to 1948. Among the critical category of prime working-age men between 25 and 54, only 81.2 percent held jobs, a barely noticeable improvement from its low point last year — and still well below the depths of the 1982-83 recession, when employment among prime-age men never dropped below 85 percent. To put those numbers in perspective, consider that in 1969, 95 percent of men in their prime working years had a job.

Men who do have jobs are getting paid less. After accounting for inflation, median wages for men between 30 and 50 dropped 27 percent — to $33,000 a year — from 1969 to 2009, according to an analysis by Michael Greenstone, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economics professor who was chief economist for Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. “That takes men and puts them back at their earnings capacity of the 1950s,” Greenstone says. “That has staggering implications.”

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  1. My only additional observation is that it is only because women are currently as embedded as they are in the workplace that Obama's Depression didn't send more families to the bread line.
    While many men would like to be the sole breadwinner, they're learning instead the value of how to keep house, make dinner, and be happier with less. Sadly, most men brought up in a traditional way have a great deal of difficulty with self-worth if they're not earning.
    Obama stands to lose more than he can imagine as the Angry (fill-in-the-blank-of-all-colors) Man goes to the poll. He's had lots of time to study what's going on during his stint of unemployment...and how to change it.

  2. Thanks for the comment

    IMHO, far too many people bought into the evil consumerism concept of "we must have everything that we ever wanted in life & we must have it now".

    So both spouses work & 110% of the income is spent before the paychecks ever arrive. Then when a mean, nasty old recession came along taking one income, if not two, people were helplessly & hopelessly in major trouble very fast.. On car loans, on credit cards, on mortgages & whatever else.

    This is why the backbone of the governments support efforts (besides TRILLIONS to the banks) has been extended unemployment (paychecks for not working), expanded food stamp program & the like. Were people to have to deal with the current situation on their own with no aid from government the entire debt based ponzi scheme economy would collapse in a huge hurry as millions of Americans simply stopped paying their bills altogether..

    The design of this economy is certainly unsustainable as the only thing which can save it to this very day is to further the exponential expansion of credit / debt. And since that IS the problem it's quite impossible for it also to be the solution.