Home » Women Working More Than Ever Increases Number of Men Who Don’t Want to Work

Women Working More Than Ever Increases Number of Men Who Don’t Want to Work

Women are working more than ever before, but men are quickly falling in workforce numbers, recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows. The percentage of women in the workforce in their prime working years, or ages 25 to 54, has skyrocketed to 78 percent. That's a boost from 73 percent in 2014 and tens of percentage points higher than the 1960s. It's also proof that women were able to reenter the workforce even after the coronavirus pandemic caused many to leave as children were forced at home.

by Narges Mohammadi

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found only 89 percent of working-age men had a job or were actively looking for work. That’s a significant drop from 1950 when the number was 97 percent. So while women are increasingly looking for work, many men are simply opting out.

“The U.S. has a major issue of prime-age men giving up and permanently exiting the labor force,” Robin Brooks, a senior fellow policy research firm at the Brookings Institution and the former chief economist at IIF, wrote on X, formerly Twitter this month. “What’s striking about this is that it doesn’t get talked about at all, not in the mainstream media and not by economists, even though this obviously feeds political radicalization.”

Men are opting out of the workforce for various reasons, but a key factor in the story is men’s dwindling rates of higher education attainment. While women historically were left out of college education, they now outpace men at college roughly 60 to 40 percent.

Not having a college degree invariably limits your employability, statistics show.

Those with only a high school diploma have an unemployment rate of 3.9 percent compared to just 2.2 percent of those who achieved a bachelor’s degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Other times, the desire to opt out of capitalist society might cause many to abandon the workforce altogether.

“Many jobs are simply not satisfying,” Yvonne Vising, a professor at Salem State University and an expert on the changing role of men in society, previously told Newsweek. “Working for others who get the benefit of our physical labor and intellectual property is not rewarding either emotionally or financially. People want to work doing jobs that matter to us. We want to use our creativity. We want to matter, and in many businesses, employees simply don’t get treated with the respect and support that we need and want. People walk away from them.”

In other cases, men have left the workforce to become stay-at-home parents, similar to many women today. Others rely on social safety net programs like Supplemental Security Income and Social Security for disabilities that might not have been recognized in earlier years.

Still, that doesn’t fully explain why at the same time women are working more while men are working less.

If you ask HR consultant Bryan Driscoll, it could largely in part come down to a mental health crisis among men that is not often addressed within society or in the workplace.

“This tells me that even with the push to be more mindful and aware of employee’s mental health issues and wellbeing, men are being left out,” Driscoll told Newsweek.

But if the trend continues, and men continue to fall out of the workforce, Driscoll foresees widespread social and economic implications.

“From a purely economic standpoint, a shrinking labor force reduces the potential for economic growth, limits our ability to fund social programs, and may contribute to skill shortages in critical industries,” Driscoll said. “Societally, the absence of young men from the workforce contributes to issues of social cohesion, increases dependency on welfare systems, and can exacerbate feelings of disenfranchisement and alienation.”

Still, it might not be time to sound the alarm yet. In some ways, the dwindling numbers of men in the workforce as women’s working numbers climb higher could just reflect a leveling of the playing field, Driscoll said.

“The decline in male labor force participation could be seen as a leveling of the playing field, offering a silver lining by potentially opening more opportunities for women and addressing longstanding gender imbalances in employment,” Driscoll said.

Jennifer Lee Magas, vice president of Magas Media Consultants and an assistant professor at Texas Tech University, echoed this statement, saying today’s lingering wage gap still shows there’s plenty that still needs to be done to deliver true equity in the workforce.

“It’s not about women replacing men, but rather an evolution of roles and opportunities,” Magas told Newsweek. “Female-dominated industries such as healthcare and education are experiencing growth, while traditionally male-dominated sectors like manufacturing are shrinking.”

Source: News-Week

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