2/10/2014 5:30 PM ET|
More men in prime working ages don't have jobs
Technology and globalization have transformed employment amid the slow economic recovery.
Mark Riley was 53 years old when he lost a job as a grant writer for an Arkansas community college. "I was stunned," he said. "It happened on my daughter's 11th birthday." His boss blamed state budget cuts.
That was almost three years ago and he still hasn't found steady work. Riley, whose unemployment benefits ran out 14 months ago, says his long and fruitless search is proof employers won't hire men out of work too long.
"We're poor, but we're not broke," Riley said. "We still have property. We have cars. We have some assets, we just can't liquidate them."
Riley's frustration is widely shared. 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.
Having so many men out of work is partly a symptom of a U.S. economy slow to recover from the worst recession in 75 years. It is also a chronic condition that shows how technology and globalization are transforming jobs faster than many workers can adapt, economists say.
The trend has been building for decades, according to government data. In the early 1970s, just 6 percent of American men ages 25 to 54 were without jobs. By late 2007, it was 13 percent. In 2009, during the worst of the recession, nearly 20 percent didn't have jobs.
Although the economy is improving and the unemployment rate is falling, 17 percent 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. The January snapshot of the job market is due Friday.
For women, the story is different. In the 1950s, only about a third of women ages 25 to 54 had jobs. That rose steadily until the 1990s, and then leveled off for reasons that aren't clear. At last tally, about 70 percent were working; 30 percent weren't.
Men without jobs stand apart in a society that has long celebrated work and hailed the breadwinners who support their families. "Our culture is one that venerates work, that views work as good for its own sake," said David Autor, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist.
The bleak prospects for the long-term unemployed—40 percent of men looking for jobs say they have been out of work six months or more—alarms policy makers and economists. The longer a person is unemployed, according to historic data, the harder it is to find a job.
Surveys find that most of the jobless spend their days in the same way working men spend weekends—watching TV, working out, sleeping. Economists say part of the problem is that men with few marketable skills and little education can't find work that pays enough to get them off the couch.
Since the early 1970s, the average inflation-adjusted wage for high-school dropouts has fallen about 25 percent; for high-school graduates with no college degree, it is down about 15 percent. 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.
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 Moffitt, who has researched the subject. "It's unexpected."
Although 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day, these unemployed men are too young for conventional retirement. Many are closer to the start of their working lives.
Kenneth Gilkes Jr., 29 years old, thought he was on his way to a career in government affairs after earning a master's degree in public administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2008.
But he was laid off from his first job at Chicago public schools. His most recent position, working in community outreach for former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. , ended in April with Jackson's resignation over the misuse of campaign funds. Gilkes collected $500 a week in unemployment benefits until December, when Congress failed to extend the program. He has spent his savings and now relies on family and friends.
Gilkes applies for at least two jobs a day, he said, but gets little response, especially when applying online, a common complaint by job seekers. He watches documentaries on successful people for inspiration, he said. Gilkes shares custody of his 2-year-old daughter with this ex-wife and said the responsibility of fatherhood pushes him to keep looking.
"Sometimes I get discouraged, but, honestly, I can't stop applying," Gilkes said. "Everyone tells me there's light at the end of the tunnel."
For some men, the job market has passed them by. After high school, Joseph Maloney, 51 years old, followed the men in his family to work on Chicago's trading floors. For nearly three decades, he worked in back-office operations for commodity firms. As trading moved from open pits to computer screens, jobs disappeared. Maloney, to his regret, said for years he didn't keep pace with the changing technology.
Maloney's son, Joseph Jr., grew up watching his dad leave the house before sunrise. "Work is an ingrained value for him," said the 25-year-old college graduate who works for Teach for America. "Not being able to have that, and satisfy that, has been really tough."
The older Maloney was laid off in 2009 and turned to temporary jobs. In 2011, he had a heart transplant.
More from The Wall Street Journal:
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
'More than one in six men, ages 25 to 54, don't have jobs..............
But that would be over 18%! And the 'gubmint' told me that unemployment is under 7%!
And I KNOW the obamination wouldn't lie to me!
The Big Fix ....
Nothing can ever or will ever change in a nation whose real and actual leaders are the Armani-suited shysters sitting behind mahogany desks on Wall Street and in Fortune 500 corporate boardrooms. Their lackeys spread hundreds of millions of dollars around Capital Hill, [should be spelled Capitol Hill], to buy each and every one of our crooked Senators and Congressmen in order to sway policy and pass laws favorable ONLY to the corporations, the wealthy and the privileged. Conniving 'BS artists' like Jamie Dimon, CEO of Morgan/Chase got a $20 million bonus after he orchestrated a $13 Billion loss due to his oversights, illegal trade and business practices and huge governmental fines....then he hides his windfall in tax-free havens like the Cayman Islands and Switzerland. Meanwhile, the janitor that cleans the toilets in his office makes $9.00 an hour and has to pay 30% in taxes on his crummy wages ...I guess that's fair in this unbelievably distorted economy.
I always tell young people in their twenties that they have 50 years of bad road ahead because I feel sorry for them and what they are facing for the rest of their lives. This entire country is going down a god damn rat hole because the corporate crooks are now running the place with no checks or balances whatsoever. For the average American it's getting worse every year and it is very evident that we're in a world of trouble. Peace to all
....what was that I heard last week? ....something about a fall in the unemployment #'s? ...to 6.7% ..or some crazy sh*t like that..
....why is it that "We The People" ...will fall for a line like that ...when the actual UI numbers are closer to 20% ....without deleting all those that have stopped looking or have conveniently fallen out of the countable pool of jobless?
....who's worse ...the one that tells the lies ...or the bogus number crunchers that the Chief Liar has on staff to assist in the telling of the lie?
....I'm in the civil engineering field ...with commercial construction as my focus. I was laid off 5 years, 1 month and 5 days ago. I was lucky that all the clients that I handled ...blew a gasket when I was pushed out the door ...and immediately was able to start my own consulting firm (the next day) with major clients that jumped ship from my old company. But ...5 years later ...there's no up-tick in construction work or retail development. There's no reason to build new ...when there is a 40% retail vacancy rate ...and stores are sitting cold and dark.
....all those "shovel ready" projects went to existing construction firms ...with existing employees. There was no way they'd expand their ranks ...that only dilutes profits. So ...work went to those that already had work ...they just got more overtime.
...interesting observation: ...just saw my old company advertise my old job. They want someone with 5 years retail development experience ...a ton of other credentials ....college degree ...yadda ...yadda ...yadda ...and they are labeling the position as "entry level"!! That means ...the $96K job that I held .....will be offered at about $46K ....
......and to top it off ...they will take the plan preparation work ...and outsource it to India or China. So ...that $46K worker ...will get no chance to work overtime and maybe boost their yearly take to perhaps $56K. Not when that +$10K of service ...can be done overseas for about $1500 bucks.
....that's the new economy
Bottom line: Free Trade: when many of our industries moved to China so that retail stores could charge American made prices for products made at slave labor costs, attaining 1000% plus markups, the wealth concentrated in the wealthy middle men. Walmart heirs are among the wealthiest on earth now. Then corporations went off shore, many to Ireland, to evade taxes, leaving the few still working to take up the burden in the form of quantitative easing. When more money is printed, for whatever reason, money in circulation is worth less, a standard of living decrease just like extra taxes. I often hear politicians saying how they will lower taxes, but I never hear them say they will lower spending and quit money printing. As long as the shoes and clothes you are wearing are made in a foreign country you will have high unemployment, unless there is trade balance. But how can the people in China buy our goods when they make a dollar a day?
One solution is to place a tariff on imports that will support the people on welfare/unemployment. In this way the consumer can see what the actual cost of buying foreign is and not be burdened with the extra taxes built into the cost of American products; made in America may actually be less expensive when factoring in the cost of unemployment. When you say this will make foreign products more expensive, remember that we are all going to pay for supporting unemployed in America. If it doesn’t come out of the front pocket it will come out of the back pocket. And everyone’s vote counts the same, so the unemployed vote themselves a comfortable life while you think you are getting a great deal at warmart.
Second: our greatness was founded on competition, both in business and labor. Regan ditched the antitrust laws and gave China the “Most favored nation status” setting us on the road we now travel. Walmart, Target, are really monopolies, buy something at Wal-Mart and go to target and check the price, see how competitive they aren’t.
Free trade is an old term, one used in the civil war days when Britain bought slave labor produced cotton, turned it into low quality clothes, and then traded with India for opium to sell in China. Buy cheap, sell dear. East India Trading Company. Free trade is anything but free, it is just a way for retail industry to hack huge markups, since we are used to paying living wage prices, but they can supply it at slave labor costs, keeping the difference. This is the root cause of our situation. Every time you buy a tennis shoe for $80 when it cost $4 to make in China, you widen the gap and eliminate the middle class.
A Econ 110 student can figure out that Barack will continue to lead this once great powerhouse into the tank.
Indeed, it's difficult to watch.
One can place the blame for an increasing number of men that don’t have jobs on the economy but the reality is that Obama has made dropping out of the workforce very comfortable, and we are approaching 40% of the workforce that has stopped looking for work.
For five years Obama and his bunch have been trying to jump start the job market. Now that even they realize they are clueless about how to accomplish that, they’ve decided to try to turn their incompetence into a positive by claiming that fewer people without jobs is actually some kind of good thing.
I still believe the worst is yet to come. Workers between the ages of 45 to 65 will find it harder to keep their jobs in the future because of the rising cost of company-sponsored health insurance plans as a direct result of the ACA. The added regulations and economic policies of the current administration will continue to add to the problem. Obama and the rest of his lying buddies in Washington DC seem to be doing more to hinder growth than to encourage it. The only ones benefiting are those who depend on government handouts and jobs.
If there is a revolution in the near future, count me in.
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