December 15, 2014

Data Spotlight: Share Of Prime-Age Working Men Who Are Not Working Has Tripled

As the metals industry and broader manufacturing industry continues to face a shortage of skilled workers, it is worth pondering this story from The New York Times, which found more U.S. workers now find unemployment more attractive than employment. Here is the key passage from The Times story:

“Working, in America, is in decline. The share of prime-age men — those 25 to 54 years old — who are not working has more than tripled since the late 1960s, to 16 percent. More recently, since the turn of the century, the share of women without paying jobs has been rising, too. The United States, which had one of the highest employment rates among developed nations as recently as 2000, has fallen toward the bottom of the list. As the economy slowly recovers from the Great Recession, many of those men and women are eager to find work and willing to make large sacrifices to do so. Many others, however, are choosing not to work, according to a New York Times/CBS News/Kaiser Family Foundation poll that provides a detailed look at the lives of the 30 million Americans 25 to 54 who are without jobs. Many men, in particular, have decided that low-wage work will not improve their lives, in part because deep changes in American society have made it easier for them to live without working. These changes include the availability of federal disability benefits; the decline of marriage, which means fewer men provide for children; and the rise of the Internet, which has reduced the isolation of unemployment.”

One way for state and federal lawmakers to make employment more attractive: increase job training and re-training opportunities for American workers. You can read more about the skills gap here.