Thursday, September 13, 2012

Share of Men in the Labor Force is at All Time Low

Catherine Rampell:
Just 69.8 percent of all men over age 16 were in the labor force in August, compared to a long-term average of 78.3 percent since the Labor Department began tracking these data in 1948. The share has been falling pretty steadily over the last six decades but has declined sharply in the last few years.

Some of this could be attributed to the fact that the country has been aging, so more people are of retirement age. But the participation rate has also fallen dramatically for men of prime working age, 25-54.

There are many competing (or in some cases complementary) arguments for why the share of men in the labor force has been declining.

For example, a lot of traditionally male jobs, in industries like manufacturing and construction, have disappeared, and many of the men who were displaced gave up looking for work when they couldn’t find similar jobs.
 Or is it because women are outperforming men in many arenas and men haven't yet learned how to adapt?

More thoughts here.

P.S. - More thoughts from Adam Gurri.

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