WUOMFM

Prime-age men are disappearing from the workplace

Mar 2, 2015

Men are vanishing from the workplaces of America, and Michigan workplaces are a prime example.

A drop in manufacturing and construction jobs contributes to the high number of unemployed prime age men today.
Credit FLICKR USER MARIO.Q / FLICKR

The group of unemployed men between the ages of 25 and 54 has more than tripled nationwide since the 1960s. A recent piece in the New York Times explored the lives of these "prime-age" men who are vanishing from the workforce. 

Of those men, 16% are now unemployed. But in Michigan, that number is much higher.

“We first started noticing this trend more than forty years ago – late sixties, early seventies,” said Michigan State economist Charles Ballard. 

He went on to say that 2009 and the Great Recession brought the highest numbers of unemployed men – at that time, 20% of prime age men were unemployed.

“Now that’s down to 16%, which is an improvement, but that is still, for the nation as a whole, much higher than we had 40 years ago,” Ballard said. “And, as you said, in many parts of Michigan, the numbers are a lot higher than that.”

Thirty-three percent of prime-age men in Wayne County are unemployed, 32% in Genesee and 31% in Saginaw.

The causes of this vast unemployment are diverse, Ballard said. To hear more, listen above.