Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Death of the Workforce

Traveling ALL week, so posts will be intermittent.

I pointed out yesterday that for the first time in U.S. history, more women are in the workforce than men. Brad DeLong points out that this is due in large part because men are dropping out of the workforce:

Social roles and social pressures in America today are such that if you are male between 25 and 54 in America and you don't have a job, there is a presumption that there is something wrong; One thing that goes wrong is a recession (or a depression), but steadily since 1950 other things have been going wrong for an increasing number of American prime-aged males...
Specifically, a 60 year slide in the male workforce participation rate. So if male participation has gone down, female participation must have gone up... right?

From 1950 through the mid part of this past decade... right.

Now? No more.

So while females were taking the place of their male counterparts in the workforce as the composition of the workforce was changing, the overall workforce had been continuing to grow on a per capita basis.

Now? No more.

Think about this. In January 2010, almost 3 more people out of EVERY 100 that can work, are no longer even looking and more than 6 more people out of EVERY 100 that can work aren't as compared to the workforce in January 2000.

Source: BLS


  1. As a detached and dispassionate master of the YoY skul of econozen might one say that my immediate reaction to this chart was to head for the porcelain facility room?

    My god! Did you see Bob Herbert's oped piece today in the NYT? He's more than a little Leftwingish but his data is grounded. OMB and OUCH!

  2. Not sure how alarming this should be. In all rich countries people work less and less. A shrinking workforce could be another sign of greater standard of living. I looked at my own country's figures and they look the same. It is a downward slope, especially for men.



  3. Sorry, link did not fit: