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Little Employment Joy for Men on Father’s Day 2012

June 14, 2012

After a disappointing Mother’s Day for female workers, Father’s Day is now fast approaching, and it’s worth considering how men have been faring in the Obama economy.  As the graphs below indicate, the answer is not well, especially for men in their prime working years who are the most likely to have young families to support this Father’s Day.  The Washington Post recently summarized these men’s condition this way:

“During their prime years, Americans are supposed to be building careers and wealth to prepare for their retirement. Instead, as the indicator reveals, huge numbers are on the sidelines….The falloff has been sharpest for men, for whom the proportion had been on a slow decline before the recession. The percentage of prime-age men who are working is smaller now than it has been in any time before the recession, going all the way back to 1948, according to federal statistics.”

The following charts provide more detail about what is actually happening with men between ages 25 and 54:

  • Figure 1 shows how overall employment among men in their prime working years remains stuck near post-recession lows.  At 50.3 million, today’s male employment level remains over four million below the pre-recession peak of 54.5 million.
  • Figures 2a and 2b show how even for men in this group who are working, increasingly it is in a part-time and not a full time job.  Not surprisingly, research has found this is commonly due to “slack work, business conditions.”  
  • Figure 3 shows how a record share of men in their prime working years are not even trying to find work, as the labor force participation rate has plunged to all-time lows nearly two years after the Administration declared the opening of “Recovery Summer.”  Today, a record one in nine prime age males is not participating in the labor force at all.
Figure 1. Number of Men Employed, 25-54 Years of Age (seasonally adjusted)

Figure 2a. Number of Men Working Full Time, 25-54 Years of Age (not seasonally adjusted)

Figure 2b. Number of Men Working Part Time, 25-54 Years of Age (not seasonally adjusted)

Figure 3. Male Labor Force Participation Rate, 25-54 Years of Age (seasonally adjusted)

Note: All figures from U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.