Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Men and Work: The Image You'll Never Forget

Last week I read a piece about the decline of the culture -- or something -- but it included a chart that I can't get out of my mind. I can't find the article, but I did find the chart at the website of the St. Louis Fed.

It's a chart about men and work. Specifically, it's the percent of men actually working, the "Employment-Population Ratio." Actually, it's the percent of men actually working.

Back in the early 1950s the ratio was about 84 percent. In the 1960s it was about 77 percent. Now it's just under 65 percent. Here's the chart.

Do you see what is going on? Every time there is a recession a bunch of men get bounced out of work. And a big chunk of them NEVER WORK AGAIN. Here's the original chart at St. Louis FRED.

The only recession where this didn't happen was the Reagan Recession of 1981-82. But look at the 1990 recession. It started with 73 percent of men working, dropped to 70 percent and ended up in 2000 with 72 percent working. So about one percent of the male workers NEVER WORKED AGAIN. After the 2000 recession the rate dropped to 69 percent and just go back to 70 percent before the Great Recession. So about two percent of men workers NEVER WORKED AGAIN. The Great Recession of 2007-09 hammered men in what we call the Mancession all the way down to 64 percent at work. Today it's back to 65 percent. So we can say that after the Great Recession FOUR PERCENT of male workers NEVER WORKED AGAIN.

I don't know what you think. But I think this is huge. Never mind teaching men not to rape. Never mind about ISIS. Never mind about racism. Never mind about the deficit. Never mind about My Social Security or My Medicare or any of the thousand and one free-stuff programs.

Let's think about this. Since the 1950s, each recession has thrown something like one to four percent of male workers out of work and most of those thrown out of work NEVER WORKED AGAIN.

Something is very wrong in America, and we'd better figure out what it is.

Before it's too late.

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