American Consequences - January 2018


O ver the past two generations, America has suffered a quiet catastrophe. It is a catastrophe not seen in comparable affluent Western societies. The catastrophe is the collapse of work – for men. In the half century between 1965 and 2015, work rates for the American male spiraled relentlessly downward, and an ominous migration commenced: a “flight from work,” in which ever-greater numbers of working-age men exited the labor force altogether. America is now home to an ever- growing army of jobless men no longer even

looking for work – over 7 million between ages 25 and 55, the traditional prime of working life. How big is our “men without work” problem today? Consider a single fact: In 2015, the work rate (or employment to population ratio) for American males aged 25-54 was slightly lower than it had been in 1940, at the tail end of the Great Depression. And according to the latest official monthly “jobs report” data available at this writing, the work rate for prime-age men in November 2017 was still below the 1940 level. The general decline of work for grown men,

74 January 2018

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