The Missing Men

Instructor: Tyler Cowen, George Mason University

We’re going to paint a not-so-pretty picture of the current U.S. labor force: Millions of working age (25-54) American men do not have jobs and, because they are not actively seeking work, do not count towards our primary unemployment statistic. Many of these men are living at home with their parents. They are not attending school. They are not stay-at-home dads. In fact, much of their time is going towards leisure activities such as watching television and playing video games. Almost half are on painkillers.

To be clear, this picture does not apply to every working age male without current employment, but it is accurate for a disturbingly high percentage.

If we look specifically at men without a college degree and job who are in their twenties, we find that in 2000, less than 10% had not worked at all in the past year. 15 years later, that number had more than doubled to 22%.

As of 2015, an estimated 5.5 million prime-age men (25-54) were neither working nor enrolled in school – the equivalent of the combined populations of Dallas, Philadelphia, and Chicago. It’s a worrisome trend for the economy and there’s no clear-cut answer as to why it’s happening.

Up next, we’ll discuss the possible “great reset” on the United States’ economic horizon and whether the missing men phenomenon could be a driving force.

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