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Men Walking Away From Work

December 21, 2014
Plain English Version

leaving labor force

In the 1960s, only 5 percent of men ages 25 to 54 did not work. Today, 16 percent of men in this age group do not work.

Non-working is not the same as being unemployed. The unemployed are looking for work; the non-working are not. The non-employed are often living off government benefits, savings, or waiting for the right job to open up. Many are also sharing costs with a partner or doing odd jobs in return for food and shelter.

It is a grave picture for the future. Low-wage jobs do not pay enough to support a family. Some men may not work because they do not want to or cannot afford to start families.

The number of men receiving disability benefits is rising. Early retirement, food stamps and unemployment benefits make it easier not to work. Men are learning to combine sources of income. They are less likely to look for or get a decent job.

Experts continue to say that low expectations are a big cause of the problem. And with fewer workers, there are fewer taxpayers. Can the shrinking number of workers support the growing number of non-workers?

Experts say this trend will have a big impact on the economy. It will mean fewer buyers for products.

Men dropping out of the labor force are the second biggest story. The real story is the lack of available jobs. There are about 10 million prime-age men who are not working. There currently are only 4.8 million job openings for men and women of all ages.

Education and skills remain the best paths to finding a good job.

Source: The New York Times December 11, 2014

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