Over 1 in 6 Men in Prime Working Years Don’t Have a Job

A new Wall Street Journal story on how many men aged 25 to 54 can’t find work, fails to mention but nevertheless shellacks an embarrassing New York Fed paper released earlier this week. The Fed’s propagandists tried to argue that labor markets are tighter than is widely believed. The basis for the authors’ sunny view? Changing demographics. Their proof? An absurd “normalized, demographically adjusted,” seasonally adjusted, business-cycle free employment to population ratio, to wit:

For each of the 10.2 million individuals in our sample, based on their decade of birth, sex, race/ethnicity, and education, we select one of our 280 estimated career employment rate profiles. Using the worker’s age, we calculate the predicted employment rate for that individual based on their selected employment rate profile. We then calculate the weighted average of these predicted employment rates across all individuals in a given time period to generate an estimated E/P ratio for that time period. We repeat this exercise for each time period covered by our data.

Oh, and after that they seasonally adjusted and then “normalized” the data.

They might instead have looked out the window, say at the long lines any time a big employer opens a new facility, or readily-available information like this:

ERE reports that “Although it varies with the company and the job, on average 250 resumes are received for each corporate job opening.” In addition, out of every 1000 people who view an online job posting, 100 people will apply, 4 – 6 will be selected for an interview, 1 – 3 will be invited for a final interview, 1 will be offered the job, and 80% of those who get a job offer accept it.

Admittedly, the Internet makes it vastly easier to apply for jobs than the old-fashioned written submission, but this sort of bid to cover ratio isn’t consistent with a strong employment market.

Now if you had managed to take the New York Fed’s porcine maquillage seriously, you’d also have to believe that employment conditions hadn’t deteriorated within particular demographic groups. The Wall Street Journal shows how the very backbone of the labor market, men in their prime (for measurement purposes, 25 to 54), are out of work to an unprecedented degree. The story is worth reading in full; it has a larger-than usual number of anecdotes, including a 53 year old community college grant writer who was fired as a result of budget cuts, to a 29 year old who was laid off shortly after getting his first job as a public school administrator, to a 52 year old Army staff sergeant who was discharged six months prior to being eligible to receive a full pension as a result of a training injury.

Key sections:

More than one in six men ages 25 to 54, prime working years, don’t have jobs—a total of 10.4 million. Some are looking for jobs; many aren’t. Some had jobs that went overseas or were lost to technology. Some refuse to uproot for work because they are tied down by family needs or tethered to homes worth less than the mortgage. Some rely on government benefits. Others depend on working spouses….

The trend has been building for decades, according to government data. In the early 1970s, just 6% of American men ages 25 to 54 were without jobs. By late 2007, it was 13%. In 2009, during the worst of the recession, nearly 20% didn’t have jobs.

Although the economy is improving and the unemployment rate is falling, 17% of working-age men weren’t working in December. More than two-thirds said they weren’t looking for work, so the government doesn’t label them unemployed….

Economists who had expected the fraction of men working or at least looking for work to be approaching prerecession levels by now are dumbfounded. “It’s looking worse and worse,” said Johns Hopkins University’s Robert Moffett, who has researched the subject. “It’s unexpected.”

The story notes that workforce participation by women in same age group has increased over time, from one third in the 1950, to the roughly 70% level attained in the 1990s that is largely intact today.

One impediment is that the worst-paid jobs are sometimes not worth the all-in costs:

Since the early 1970s, the average inflation-adjusted wage for high-school dropouts has fallen about 25%; for high-school graduates with no college degree, it is down about 15%. Simply put, many of the available jobs don’t pay enough to get men to take them, particularly if securing a job requires moving, long commutes or surrendering government benefits.

By contrast, a couple of the stories feature the cashiered men getting job training in the hope of securing work in a new field. As many NC readers probably know, this sort of rehab effort in most cases is tantamount to a scam. Even when an older worker obtains a meaningful credential, the job market is so slack that most employers can find workers who’ve previously done the same sort of work. And to the extent they are willing to hire someone fresh out of school, most employers prefer younger workers who are perceived to be more malleable and energetic.

Lambert raised a question that the commentariat might be able to help answer: what happens to men in this fix? I told him that he shouldn’t be surprised, there’s money only to research things that show things are really swell, and not ferret out the many manifestations of distress and dislocation.

The article makes clear that at least some of the men are on trajectories that can’t be sustained, borrowing and selling assets yet starting to fall behind on payments. Clearly (again as the article indicates) some wind up living with relatives. And even with budget cuts, we do have enough in the way of social safety nets to forestall the establishment of Obamavilles. But I wonder how many people are living in cars, or couch-surfing (meaning one step away from being homeless), or (as one reader found out over the summer) renting rooms in trailer camps.

The duration and severity of unemployment among men in their peak earning years suggests that there is both more suffering than is readily apparent, and that this group is also likely to wind up impoverished in their old age. These men, with their sense of identity often strongly vested in being producers and breadwinners, face a grim future in psychological as well as financial terms. To put it more bluntly, this level of unemployment is suicide futures.

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  1. Ben Johannson

    Men who can”t find paid work or assistance move into the black economy, which is a goal of the Corporate Lords. The more in the black, the more stuff they can get away with, culminating in an entirely opaque “self-reporting” economy with zero accounting rules or oversight.

  2. Paul

    No idea how large a chunk of the working-age population this might account for in total, but I’m 28, male, and living as a kind of economic refugee in China. This is a pretty common story for millennial males in my native Appalachia, where there’s little work to be found (even less that’s any good), and historically access to employer-provided health care has been extremely limited—an ESL teaching gig generally gets you health care and about $1000 USD a month (which generally exceeds the cost of living by a long shot). I was working at a university teaching 5 classes a year prior to this, was able to save very little, and my employer (a large catholic university in the midwest) provided no health care.

    1. Michael Smitka

      Ah, my son, working as a factory temp here on the edge of Applachia has just landed an English job in Japan after 14 months and hundreds of resumes. That effort offers indirect evidence of tough labor markets, as pre-Great Recession such jobs were easy to land – numbers of my students (and my daughter, indeed I myself) did that for 2 years right after graduation. However, my sense is that the increment in the number of such jobs is small, and that’s what matters, not the absolute level. Caveat: I have no data, but do chat with people teaching overseas from time to time, and not just in Japan, and have followed the job search of my son and others.

      On the US end, I also do my own analysis of employment-participation, corrected for demographics, and will post an update on my blog sometime after 8:30 am tomorrow with the next CES / CPS release.

  3. Field Marshal Macluhan

    I am a former news industry grunt, mostly in TV as an assistant and writer. Lost my last professional job five years ago after my employer was convicted of fraud (interesting but long story there) and I couldn’t find anything else in my field. I took retail jobs, tried and failed as an ESL teacher, even spent a year as a bike courier – all while battling serious depression, which my situation was doing nothing to help.

    About a year ago, while I was working as a messenger, I had a breakdown and couldn’t keep working. There are no job protections of any kind for an ‘independent contractor’, so it was either move in with mom and dad or find a nice sewer grate to sleep on. I chose mom and dad. After a few months, when I was able to crawl out of bed again, I kept looking for work, but with a deep hole in my resume where a career should have been, I knew I faced towering odds against anything securing better than another menial, bullshit job.

    The situation has since taken on a very different character. This summer, both of my parents were diagnosed with serious – in my father’s case, almost certainly terminal – cancers. I now do the majority of the housework, the driving, some light nursing duties, though those will get heavier as things progress. I’ve gone from being the sick one to the caretaker. It’s given me a sense of purpose, of neededness, that I have not felt in a long time. But at horrible cost.

    I have gone a very long time without professional, white-collar work. Barring an extraordinary turn of events, I imagine that things will stay that way. When the natural sequence of events has run its course, I will probably go back to school again – the usual scam, as Yves said above, but what else is there? I have been filtered out by a society that simply does not require me to exist, and that, outside of a small (and rapidly shrinking) circle of friends and family, doesn’t particularly care whether I continue to do so. I am the dispensable man.

    1. Jake

      Lived your life back in the late 1980’s early 1990’s. Wound up working for $7 an hour and going to school at night. After 7 years of slaving purchased an existing business and created my own job. It’s not been easy and sacrificed a lot for career – but it did pay off. My path is not for most people though – lots of long days and loneliness but it was that or giving up. Hang in there and follow your intuition.

    2. Dan Kervick

      I have been filtered out by a society that simply does not require me to exist, and that, outside of a small (and rapidly shrinking) circle of friends and family, doesn’t particularly care whether I continue to do so.

      The thing is, even in the most harsh mercenary sense, society does require you to exist. Our society is languishing in stagnation while massive global problems stare us in the face. We all know that both Americans and global humanity as a whole are going to be called on to make massive structural changes in this century. It’s going to take a great deal of work and we are going to need people like you to help.

      The only thing that apparently doesn’t require your existence is the US corporate and private enterprise system, which in modern neoliberal America has been granted collective monopoly ownership of our society and its government and has lock-down control of our decisions about what to produce, about how to mobilize our people and their capacity to do useful work, and about how to distribute the fruits of our labors to the whole population.

      The fanatical American system of work and enterprise, which is bottom heavy with the finite needs of the consumerist crap economy, and seems incapable of translating obvious social needs into political will and organized public enterprise, is being revealed as amazingly stupid and primitive as a way of putting a society together. So just remember that you are not the one with the problem.

    3. sgt_doom

      We always hear comments, either on those on-air talk shows which claim to be “progressive” (yet ardently support the status quo) or on the Web, personalized stories, stories pointing to people’s person stories, the me…me…me…infantilized American, who never bothered to take any interest in their citizenship duties, who ignored years of jobs offshoring, private equity leveraged buyouts destroying companies, offshoring jobs and asset stripping and wiping out R&D, and hedge funds and their destructive and rampant speculation.

      Wonder if this is one of those who voted for Reagan, and the two Bushes (not that a Clinton or Obama would really make a difference)?

      Suddenly, when it becomes personal, they sit up and take notice, but the deregulation of America, the dismantling of the American economy, the transformation of the economy into one giant Ponzi scheme, has been transpiring over the past three some decades; it didn’t just happen overnight.

      Sorry, chum, but it is now too late.

      Go and read Ferdinand Lundberg’s The Treason of the People — he was warning us about this back in 1958.

      Go and read The Surplus American, ’cause that is what so many are today.

      1. John

        Many people I know still don’t get it even when it puts them out of work and they can’t get another decent job.
        They believe it’s their fault.

      2. jrs

        Dude you don’t even know if this guy is old enough to have voted for Reagan (or Clinton or Bush for that matter), so drop it with the “everyone is a boomer like me” assumption.

        The guy isn’t too old probably as his parents are both still alive (although sick), on the other hand he had a career for awhile and at least 5 years outside it so he’s probably done a decade + in the job market at least.

    4. Andy

      I feel your situation as well. I have chosen geographical limitations to take care of my nearly-ninety-year-old mother, and I’m glad for the privilege. With a life-limiting and work-stopping disability, I realized that no one was going to offer me a job. This forced me into entrepreneurship, and I feel a sense of mission to help people whose situations are anything like mine – people who know that if they want a job, they’re going to have to MAKE one themselves. I’ve had to develop spiritual and psychological muscles I never knew I had – and you know what, I’m still doing this. I will wear my white collar as I go up to someone and boldly show them how my service will fit their needs. There is no hole in my résumé: for more than twenty years now, my career is the one I have made for myself, and I wish to encourage and support you in doing the same.


      I’m curious to know what didn’t work out for you with ESL. That is one of my main income streams right now.

    5. sd

      Articulate, educated, responsible and single caretakers are actually very highly sought after. Your experience with your parents may very well land you a well paying job. Are you working with hospice or home care workers? Talk to them. Collect names for when you are ready. Ask about agencies and temp placements services. There is a whole world out there that few pay much attention to until the care is needed.

      1. Mark Lovas

        Everything I read indicates that, yes, such jobs are plentiful, but they are not exactly well-paid. A recent EPI briefing paper had the headline “Low Wages and Scant Benefits Leave Many In-Home Workers Unable to Make Ends Meet”.

  4. Gabriel

    Maybe high male unemployment is a reflection of yesterday’s story about robotics displacing jobs? Automation and employment numbers aren’t a happy dance.

    The other part of the brew if, of course, out-sourcing/globalization.

    In other words, the world economy is a system. Tweak one part [out-sourcing and automation] and another is affected [employment].

    1. duffolonious

      How many of the jobs are construction or related (landscaping, zoning)?

      I am also curious how much is geographically structural. Who is going to commute across their metro area or 2 towns over for a minimum wage job. When gas prices were high ($4+ per gallon), there were articles on people outright quitting in these circumstances.

      America is so spread out it makes for an awful labor market. And people in construction and the like are the worst offenders (they have to drive all over the place anyway, might as well live in Bumbefuck).

      1. Jetfixr

        All the residential landscaping/construction jobs around here are being done by illegals.

        Around here, this used to be a good summer job for the 18-21 year old kids. Among many others.

        Now, it’s either work for Daddy (if he owns a business), Burger King/MickeyDees, Wally-World, or join the Army/Navy/USAF.

        1. frank54

          Army/Navy/USAF and Marines too are far from a last resort. They are very choosy these days about who they take.

  5. Dino Reno

    According to the White House, they are now free to become entrepreneurs employing their couch surfing brethren. Anyone who says otherwise, is just being a Debbie Downer.

  6. diptherio

    No matter how much of a sensitive new-age male you are, there is still a deep-seated psychological need in most men in our society to feel like “the provider.” When you end up in a situation, as a man, where you are dependent on your female partner to make ends meet, it is emasculating, even if you claim it’s not and that you’re too enlightened to be affected by such Victorian gender ideals. I seem to recall a recent study finding that men who made less income than their partners were much more likely to cheat as a way of regaining their sense of manliness.

    In our society we have accepted the equation of income/wealth with worth (f—ed up though that is). A man without employment (or a woman) can hardly feel that they are not worthless. The psychological devastation that is bound to result from involuntary long-term unemployment, especially when the MSM keeps denying the systemic nature of the problem, is likely to be severe. Conclusion: we need an Employer of Last Resort program ASAP. However, the PTB seem content to continue on this downward spiral, denying the fact of our decent all the while…sigh.

  7. Carla

    “what happens to men in this fix?”

    Social Security happens.

    Many are forced to take Social Security retirement benefits as early as possible (at 62), thus seriously and permanently reducing the amount of their monthly pensions for the rest of their lives.

    Among younger people, anyone who can possibly do so tries to qualify for Social Security disability. This is purely anecdotal, but I’ve been told that it takes a minimum of three tries and usually hiring a lawyer to go this route.

    Please understand: I am not criticizing in any way. What else are people to do? It’s the black market or Social Security. Thank heaven Social Security still exists and is very efficiently run. Personally, I wish it would be turned into a universal basic income program, but don’t expect to live to see that happen.

    1. Paul

      Carla, we have in place already some bits and pieces, e.g. SNAP and SS disability “insurance”, of “a universal basic income program”. Even you make this sufficiently clear, but if ever the feddies or the provinces establish a comprehensive universal basic income program, you should plan upon there being a few more American “Men In Prime Working Years” who tire of being one of your oxen. ;-)

      Do not worry, however, that there could be some kind of civilizational collapse in the USA due to healthy, educated men sailing away from the officially approved work force. The “bid to cover ratio” suggests that there’s no shortage of adult male Americans willing to conform to the status quo. Furthermore, most adult male Americans are effete tools or go-getting vulgarians. The former smugly congratulate theirselves for their broadmindedness, and the latter are like frat boys who regard nanny statism, welfare statism, and rigged labor markets as tolerable costs of doing business. And can you imagine many of the latter type of male, esp. those without college degrees, refusing to support the fiscal regime which maintains the precious military?

      Of course, there is no shortage of American males who will support left-wing programs in exchange for sex. So, given these facts and the prevailing winds of politics, it seems likely that a comprehensive basic income program will be established within a decade or two.

      Fyi, John Galt was basically just a clever parvenu who organized a coup d’etat against both the power companies and the government. His motives should be obvious, even to those Americans who usually need everything spelled out for them in painstaking detail. (And to think that Galt manipulated a greedy upper class female, Dagny, not only into helping him but also into risking her neck for him!) May a pox be upon Ayn Rand’s favorite stalker and upon everyone who spouts hagiography about him.

      1. jrs

        People would not choose wage slavery because the average wage slavery job in this economy sucks to heck? Shrug. Good riddance.

  8. DolleyMadison

    …and don’t underetsimate the toll it takes on these men’s spouses and families…my husband has been out of work for 4 years and I don’t beleive he will ever get a real job again. He has applied for thousands of jobs and has gotten exactly one interview – for a job as an electonic fence salesman/installer (for dog containment). The interview went well, but he never got a call back and weeks later saw the guy they did hire – a skinhead covered in tatoos. Really??? I do temproary but fairly well paid consulting work with few benefits so I can keep the lights on and food on the table but after exhausting our 401 k to send first 2 kids to college out younger two will not be going…I never thought I’d say this but I hope they marry well which is doubtful b/c although they are beautiful and smart most men also want a partner with money as well these days. We are living day to day and trying our best to love one another and not let what is happening around us destory our family. It’s tough.

    1. Carla

      DolleyM, I admire your courage in a very difficult situation. Many friends, family members and neighbors of mine are suffering similarly. Some of them found the following quote from Howard Zinn lifted their spirits:

      “TO BE HOPEFUL in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

      What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

      And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.” — Howard Zinn

    2. Andy

      Dolley, I certainly send you and yours all my positive energy to create a better life for yourselves. As you may read on my other comments, I would encourage your husband to seriously consider MAKING his job. By the way, the men who want partners with money are not worth having – no matter how dazzling they may be, no one with that character flaw will be a suitable partner for your children. BTW, there ARE other ways they can get college educations. It isn’t easy in this country, and they may not be able to attend full-time, but, as someone who fought with might and main to do it – I bear the glad tidings that it CAN be done.

  9. JGordon

    The “black economy” or “system D” will be the salvation of mankind. While the centralized systems continue to decay from lack of energy/resource inputs and maladaptive responses (ridiculous regulations, attempts to stymy self reliance/NGO community armed self-defense, etc) system D will be there to pick up the slack.

    Ultimately, people (well, survivors anyway) get pissed when interlopers come in and make a bunch of rules and laws, and then spy on them incessantly to make sure they’re all those arbitrary or elite-serving rules are being abided by. The blow back you’re getting from that will go a long way towards collapsing the already visibly rickety/fraudulent system.

    By the way, I propose outlawing corporations and making it a capital crime to charge interest on money. That will serve the dual purposes of kicking the Corporate Lords to the curb and bring honesty and simplicity back to our despicable financial system, as well as enforce a sustainable non or little-growth economy. If only the Christians had the same sensible prohibitions against usurers that Muslims do.

  10. psychohistorian

    In the early 70’s our country did fund a Public Service Employment program as part of CETA to hire the unemployed for government and 501c3 projects. I helped develop and manage such for 32 out of the 39 counties in Washington State. While it was a poor replica of the WPA and CCC programs of the Depression in many cases it did provide a humanistic backstop for many caught in the ongoing casino of employment. It is a travesty to see it not happening now and speaks volumes to the fascist control of our current congresscritters.

    That said, I want to repeat the reality that, given our current world population, there are never going to be enough “real job” for all that want them. And the situation is only going to get worse with ongoing improvements in “productivity” (i.e robots, etc.)

    So we are now engaged in social genocide here in the US and world wide as countries vie for the decreasing number of jobs, all at lower wages…whatever the market will bear…
    But none call it out for what it is because then the crazy house of cars that is “Western Capitalism” just might fall down and be forced to evolve.

    As a society we need to redefine, social responsibility, contribution and basic government support for human survival…..or go extinct as we tear each other apart propping up the class system of ongoing accumulation of property underwritten by inheritance laws that gives us our current set of plutocrats (i.e. the Koch, Bush, etc. families).

    Can we evolve as a species or is this the best we can do?

    1. Paul Niemi

      The underlying assumption has been that economic growth will solve our problems, living in a dynamic economy that ebbs, flows, and adapts to change. What has not been much contemplated is what the country would look like and act like in an environment where population growth has slowed to zero, economic growth likewise, most land that can be developed has been developed, most resources that can be harnessed have been harnessed, and where the economy is mature and essentially static. That scenario would require public policy changes no one really takes seriously now. For example, under no growth, federal budgets would need to be balanced, because public debt would otherwise outgrow the ability to pay. Trade would need to be balanced, it would seem also. Cradle to grave welfare would be highly desired, because the consequences of chronic unemployment would become intolerable, and so people could choose to work or not depending on inclination, balancing perhaps the fact that less work actually needed to be done. The cost would be a combined tax rate of 50 percent of income, something I believe is typical of the Nordic countries. Would people think the cost is worth it? Where in our dynamic economy some strike it rich, most grind along, and a few face homelessness and a life expectancy of 45; in the other scenario almost none would get rich, the middle class would be firmly in charge, and life could be very placid. However, an observation of mine is that countries with cradle to grave welfare today often experienced decimation in WWII, losing everything and needing to work their way out of rationing of the barest essentials after the war. Those nations have different attitudes among the public about what services are essential and what are superfluous. They have a higher tolerance for taxes. I think it takes a really bad shock to awaken people to a need to pull together and sacrifice. We will try everything else first, muddling through as we can.

      1. taunger

        “and a few face homelessness and a life expectancy of 45”

        when a few become many, psychohistorian’s revolution becomes more plausible. That will happen.But timelines are long in society and politics, something individualism of the 20th century overshadows.

    2. rps

      FDR’s 1938 Fair Labor Standard Act is in desperate need for a revision of the eight-hour day and forty-hour workweek. It’s 50 years past due for an update. Perhaps 25-30 hours as the new full-time work week without a salary decrease. This is probably the most practical solution to include the surplus adult population who’s been left out in the cold, in the welfare-lines and so forth. Every willing able adult has a right to employment in this country. Jobs shouldn’t be a competition. Instead, jobs are the majority’s livelihood. We are dependent on jobs as the primary source of income in this monied culture to clothe, shelter and feed tourselves and families.

      1. Medbh

        If we get to update the FLSA, let’s eliminate exempt positions too. Everyone around me is working crazy hours, and yet more positions are eliminated and the existing work is tossed over to the survivors.

        Everyone could be employed, and have a reasonable life besides. We set a standard once; let’s do it again to reflect today’s needs and values.

        1. jonboinAR

          I too think that this is an obvious way to spread the productivity-wealth. I suppose some would argue that the results would be quite inflationary though, or something?

      2. washunate

        Spot on. A couple simple tweaks – overtime at fewer weekly hours and salary test for exemptions at a higher level – would dramatically improve things.

        Which of course is why we have lots of fancy punditry that ignores this obviously simple policy option.

  11. hemeantwell

    Not just individual suicide futures, but social as well. The tiresome nag re “without a truly progressive political party and active labor movement the disillusioned employed will gravitate to right-wing extremism” applies.

  12. cnchal

    Samuel Kapon and Joseph Tracy, the authors of that NY Fed paper, fall into that age and gender group. No doubt they are paid six figure salaries to add zero or negative value to the economy. Their type of jobs absorb wealth other people create or in their particular case perhaps the NY Fed just prints their paychecks. They remind me of the bullshit jobs post of a few months ago.

    Transferring wealth creating manufacturing jobs to Asia is the most obvious reason for lack of jobs for men in this age group. This work is predominantly done by males and this avenue of good paying jobs that one could raise a family on, has led straight into the Pacific ocean.

    One didn’t need to have a university education to have a good life, and frankly lots of men thrive in a non office workplace and like what they do. There is less opportunity for that now.

    1. DolleyMadison

      Exactly – the only saving grace is my husband is a very talented artist/carpenter and does off the books work for housewives and designers and “fix the mess” work from the occaisional contractor who gets a client not happy with low wage/lows skill handiwork. The offshoring of jobs is a double whammy for the middle class – not only have all of those jobs gone away, but the high-quality appliances and furniture that used to made here have been replaced with unadulterated JUNK – my third washing machine in 7 years just broke – and is unreparable. My 4 year old gas stove is going out, and my dishwasher broke after 18 months. My nieghbor paid top-dollar for a bedroom set from what used to be a well-respected North Carolina company (who is offshoring to China) and it is literally falling to pieces and the stain is leaking onto her carpet. So we have diminished jobs/buying power with which we have to pay ONSHORE prices for OFFSHORE quality…

      1. sd

        The washing machine repair man told my mother that under no circumstances was she to replace I her old machine. He says he spends more time trying to fix new ones that just end up getting thrown away. Bad cheap parts that fail after 1 year.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Exactly what my repair guy says (and he’s not talking his book). White goods are designed so shoddily these days that when one part fails, all the others are about to fail, so there’s no point fixing just one part. As a small-time landlord who must periodically replace washers, dryers, etc., I can testify that although this situation was bad four or five years ago, it’s actually worse today.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        No, they are denying it. The paper argued the job market was tighter than everything says it is. Seriously.

  13. Cal

    “Women, Minorities and the Differentially Abled are encouraged to apply”…
    Now someone notices that there is a job hiring discrepancy?

  14. Mark

    And when you subtract the number of men who are employed in the public sector (i.e. they are actually paying taxes towards support of the public sector governements) I would bet the total number is probably hovering around 50% at best.

  15. taunger

    32, advanced degrees, and living in the (nearly) democratic socialist state of Massachusetts. Under 200% of poverty based on part-time and volunteer work. Happy to stay this way; no less retirement security than the alternative, in my mind, and certainly more flexibility. I dread a “job,” mainly because employers suck so much.

  16. Andrea

    Men are losing out (stats are far worse imho than what is reported) as women take the jobs.
    Because the jobs are ‘proximity, service, often low-qualification’ jobs.
    Sure not only.

    Lawyer, Gov. official, Judge, Notary, Real Estate Agent, etc. are more ‘n more frequently women…as they are proximal jobs that can’t be exported.

    The male bosses, managers are weeded out, they are not needed in high numbers. Or .. at all!

    Today, there are more women working in the US than men. (see link, but all is of course subject to all kinds of considerations, different nos., analysis.)

    Plus, women do a lot of child – elder – home running – care.

    Not to whinge women are doing it all and carrying the cans – but to understand that some classes of employees can be dispensed with.

    Those tossed like soiled Kleenex or even *never* considered for employment, US: black men since forever, now many white men too.

    Women are kept on to feed the kiddies – they will work till they drop – and they are more pliable, subservient, afraid, have less status, lower chances (in the real world-work marketplace, not as tallied by college degrees), though of course a fair number attain high status/pay, etc.

    How can men accomplish the traditional ‘take care of the family stuff’ in case of NO JOB – even if they get disability, severance pay, unemployment – while their wives or GF, Mother, Sister, even neighbor – rake in slim income, struggle, manage, just!, to keep food on table for the dependents?

    To destroy a society, you need to break those who have some power on the ground. Family structure, say. The traditional ‘head of family’ is demeaned to increase subservience to authorities, social services, police, judges, employers, corporations, Gvmt, etc.

    Not news, a constant in history. In Soviet USSR, in Thatcher’s England, to quote but two contrasted exs.

    Ken Loach’s film *Cathy come Home*, 1966, is available on You Tube. Watch and weep and note how little change.



  17. Vatch

    This item shows why the Antidote du jour is so important. The regular NC items contain so much bad news, we need something to alleviate our distress. I’m not asking for a change to NC — the problems in the world’s economy need to be reported. Please keep those Antidotes coming!

  18. Jeremy Grimm

    I suspect that some reasonably large number of the unemployed men in their prime are divorced, have children, and are obligated to make child support payments. At least in the state where I live the amount set for these child support payments depends on income at the time of the divorce. The non-custodial parent, the husband in almost all cases, becomes responsible for the child support payment whether unemployed or not. Getting the payment changed requires going back to court and often fails. Often the non-custodial parent is also responsible to keep the children insured.

    This little conundrum helped motivate me to remain at the same job and work my butt off to avoid getting laid off. Only my very good luck kept me from becoming a bankrupt dead-beat dad. A state mandated child support payment certainly helps to shorten the time to become a homeless dead-beat dad if you get laid off.

    1. Andrea

      Yes, their, men’s, status as accepted responsible ‘providers’ with supposed ‘advantages’ in the job marketplace sees some of them – squeezed into oblivion. Then these men have no choice but to check out and go under the radar. Even if, at heart, or at the start, they wanted to do what they could for their children.

  19. The Dork of Cork

    Yes , but how many men have a real job ?
    most work in management managing external goods deficits , sales , bullshit , bollox etc etc.

    The fact of the matter is the industrial system displaces jobs – we were told that was its purpose – but why do people have to do pointless jobs so as to get credit money to buy the goods of a industrial system.

    Hamster wheel economics is everywhere.
    There are solutions if men need jobs.
    Take women out of the tax net again.
    Most will be happy although many will be too dumb to realize it.

    The world is a gigantic toilet.

  20. Francois T

    “To put it more bluntly, this level of unemployment is suicide futures.”


    The data already paints a picture of actual sharp increase in suicides among middle aged Americans.

    Just getting ready for the havoc that climate change will inevitably wreak on societies and economies worldwide would guarantee full employment.

    But no! Everyone must attend to the uber-wealthy cohort desiderata and pet wishes while placating the throng of foaming at the mouth nativists and Tea baggers.

  21. 43 year old male

    43 years old, bachelor’s in poli sci, master’s in int relations from an ivy league school, and a law degree. after economic collapse quit job and moved to state where i am not admitted to bar…huge mistake. under/unemployed for last five and a half years, family bankrolling me. three or four interviews during this time, currently working job that defines me as an independent contractor and regularly pays significantly less than min wage.

    1. subgenius

      Similar…amazing how you can work as an independent contractor and be legally compensated below minimum wage isn’t it..?

    1. Lambert Strether

      Or generalize that to a Jobs Guarantee. And before anybody starts yammering about fascists and labor camps, that’s “a job for anyone who wants one.” (One can argue against wage labor as such (“human rental”) or in favor of a Basic Income Guarantee as well, of course, if one wishes to raise good faith objections.)

  22. allcoppedout

    This is good research. Whenever we go out and actually meet people we find far fewer people are working than governments claim. I’ve tried auditing my local job centre in terms of how many of the jobs on its books are real. The place is full of security guards and violence is in the air. On a day I was told there were over 300 available jobs, I found only 20 were real and of these 10 had already been filled. Our town centre boasts lap-dancing, gambling, pubs not making money, empty shops, charity and pound shops and not much else. One of my former students was working in the centre and told me this was the only job he could get and he and his colleagues rarely placed anyone. No one looks happy. Yet we are told the UK recovery is roaring. I’ve worked abroad most of the last ten years.

    The only answers lie in reclaiming democracy and focusing on what really needs doing, through project work and a new transparent finance system. Yet we still have a bickering politics ignoring the major changes in productivity, technology, wealth distribution and the relation between what we can afford and wages.

  23. John

    That’s why every single foreigners need to be sent home now.
    H1-B visa holders and the rest of the visa alphabet soup and the over 12 million illegals need to be told, so sorry, we don’t owe the world a job when over 25 MILLION Americans don’t have one.

  24. LG

    Ex Long Term unemployed here, first straight year of steady employment since the crash.
    People have tried to tell me I boot strapped myself into this job but it was connections, they needed someone cheap I was willing to do it.

    Of course life still feels off, still have panic attacks almost every morning (Keep thinking I will be given my walking papers or my key won’t work)

    I think the worst part still is conversation, I feel like a complete alien when they start talking about activities and events. And all I can think of is I panic when I spend more than 100 dollars let alone thinking about dumping 1000 dollars on a trip.

    Thinking of the solution overwhelms me on the best day.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Meditation helps. See if you can do 20 minutes a day.

      And best of luck! You have really beaten the odds, so give yourself credit.

      You might think of polite excuses to skip office socializing or just do a bit (like just join for drinks and have only a beer when everyone else is going for dinner). You can always plead some sort of prior commitment.

      1. subgenius

        I wish meditation helped in getting a job…while it helps me deal mentally with poverty, it has had no effect on the job market :/

  25. GJB

    I am so sick of articles that quote “More than two-thirds said they weren’t looking for work, so the government doesn’t label them unemployed…
    Weren’t looking for work? no they rolled off the unemployment figures because they ran out of unemployment checks and are not counted anymore. This is just to artificially lower the unemployment rate. If the unemployment rate was calculated the way it was during the “great depression” we would exceed that rate and find that we are in a “greater depression”. The reason we are not suffering as they did is due to “credit” and the debt we are in will eventually cause an upheaval that is unmatched in all of history…

  26. F. Beard

    Give everyone some arable land and they can employ themselves – growing their own food. Oh wait! That’s the way it used to be before the banks stole family farms.

    Oh well. That vast reduction in population that many Progressives long for? It’s coming. Maybe soon. But who will survive it? Those in favor of government make-work? Or those in favor of justice?

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