If you’ve started a new job and wondered why there seems to be a shortage in men, you’re not alone. Over the last two decades, men in the labor force, which include both employed and those actively seeking employment, have been steadily declining and reached a record low of 88% last year. Reasoning: some went to jail, others are disabled, and a pretty decent amount of men just cannot find a job and have stopped looking.

According to CNN, in the 1950’s, almost all men in their prime were a part of the labor force, with the participation rate at 98%. A number of reasons have contributed to the decline:

1. Lack of education: As job markets shifted away from blue collar jobs, men suffered the most from this adjustment. This is because they no longer could get by with just a high school diploma. Now a days, more skilled labor is required, which leads to the increase in difficulty when finding a job. Industries that were once dominated by men, such as production and manufacturing, now require college degrees and the ones that don’t, do not pay as well. Even with a college diploma, the participation rate of men holding at least a bachelor’s degree has also decreased to 80%, which is 7% lower than May of 1992.
2. Women: As women enter the work force more than ever, it limits the amount of job availability that men are used to seeing. Women are also more likely to go to college compared to their male counterparts, increasing their skill and likelihood of getting a job compared to a male without a college degree.

3. Incarceration: The participation rate has also been affected by men committing crimes and sent to prison. Then, once they have completed their sentences, it’s difficult finding a job depending on the nature of the crime.

4. Disability: In recent years, an increasing amount of men have filed for disability. In 1982, 1.9% of working age men received disability benefits, however, at the end of 2012, the amount was at approximately 3.1% of the population.

5. America is getting older: As America ages, so does the Boomer generation. Many are entering into an age where they are less likely to work. The generations that follow struggle to replenish the working population.

Ultimately, unemployment doesn’t help the men that are unemployed, their families, or the growth of our economy. The decrease in employed men leads to fewer taxpayers contributing to nation’s economic growth and more single-parent contributed households.

Although the majority of this article focuses on the decrease in men within the workforce, unemployment affects both women and men and is a huge problem in today’s world. Over 400 million people have been unemployed for 6 months or more, but the government has tried to assist with combating this problem through job development and federal funded training programs. The government has also offered subsidized employment opportunities where the government pays for the employee during the beginning of their employment. This allows them to receive payment for their work while also getting their foot in the door. Although this offers a way out of unemployment for some individuals, these programs are few in number and are costly to taxpayers. However, in end, they are helping to decrease the unemployment rate.

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Victoria Baston

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