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.

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.