In the face of political gridlock, sluggish economic growth, and the grimmest approval ratings of his presidency, President Barack Obama is up against a stark political landscape as he tries to come up with his September jobs plan.
According to yesterday’s CBO report, the national unemployment rate is expected to remain above 8% until “well beyond” 2014. Underneath that number, the outlook is even more bleak, particularly for the 49.2% of the population with a Y chromosome.
The number of American men who work and how much they get paid has been declining since the 1970s, according to new report from Businessweek. Although the housing boom masked the dropoff for a while, the real estate crash has exposed the eroded economic position of American working men.
Here are some of the startling statistics, via Bloomberg:
- The portion of men holding a full- or part-time job fell to 63.5% last month, just slightly above the December 2009 nadir of 63.3%. These are the lowest numbers since 1948.
- Nearly one in every five men between the prime working ages of 25 and 54 is unemployed.
- Accounting for inflation, median wages for men between ages 30 and 50 fell 27% from 1969 to 2009.
- Over the past four decades, the portion of men between 25 and 60 receiving Social Security disability insurance has doubled, from 2.4% to 5%. Few men who receive disability insurance ever return to work.
- Unemployed men are more likely to commit crimes, end up in prison, get divorced, and father a child out of wedlock. Guys without jobs also do less housework than men with jobs.
- The percentage of men graduating from college has flatlined since the late 1970s. Females now make up 57% of college graduates, making them better equipped for data-driven jobs and better able to adapt to growth in the healthcare and education sectors.
The economic downturn has compounded the bleak economic picture for men. Construction jobs went away with the housing crash, manufacturing and other lower-skilled jobs moved overseas, and technology and downsizing cut out many middle-management jobs.
As Bloomberg notes, the long-term solution is clearly getting more men to go to college. But at the moment there is little political will to increase spending on higher education education.
In the meantime, Obama will likely pursue smaller fixes, like payroll tax breaks and infrastructure spending. The danger with that, of course, is that it will be a Band-Aid fix to a problem that is only being worse.