In Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis, American Enterprise Institute fellow Nicholas Eberstadt takes a close look at the rapidly growing cohort of American men who are out of work.
Eberstadt argues that the overemphasis of economists and policy-makers on the official unemployment rate is hiding the true state of joblessness in America. This is because the unemployment rate measures only the proportion of the labour force that is out of work. It does not account for the growing number of Americans who are leaving the labour force altogether and therefore do not figure in unemployment data.
The shrinking American work force is a problem that particularly affects men, a trend that has worsened for decades with no end in sight:
“In the half century between 1965 and 2015, work rates for the American male spiralled relentlessly downward, and an ominous migration commenced: a ‘flight from work,’ in which ever-growing numbers of working-age men exited the labor force altogether. America is now home to an immense array of jobless men no longer even looking for work…”
The most startling aspect of the male exodus from work is how little attention it has received, Eberstadt argues:
“The collapse of work in America’s men is arguably a crisis for our nation – but it is a largely invisible crisis… Somehow, we as a nation have managed to ignore this problem for decades, even as it has steadily worsened.”
This phenomenon is not, unfortunately, unique to the US. Australia, it seems, has its own silent crisis in male employment.