The Economist provides some fascinating—and starkly depressing—data on male employment levels in the U.S., finding that, among the so called G-7 nations, America has the lowest percentage of “prime-age” males in the workforce. Along with race, low education levels appears to play huge part in this:
If you adjust official data to include men in prison or the armed forces (who are left out of the raw numbers), around 35% of 25- to 54-year-old men with no high-school diploma have no job, up from around 10% in the 1960s. Of those who finished high school but did not go to college, the fraction without work has climbed from below 5% in the 1960s to almost 25% (see chart 2). Among blacks, more than 30% overall and almost 70% of high-school dropouts have no job.The piece explains that, while these numbers are exasperated by the current economic downturn, they are also reflective of larger trends. They are connected both to “sweeping structural changes” in the global economy and to a relative slide in U.S. males’ education attainment:
Those aged between 25 and 34 are less likely to have a degree than 45- to 54-year-olds. As David Autor of MIT points out, they are also less likely to have completed college than their contemporaries in Britain, Denmark, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain.It’s troubling stuff. One big question is, why the slide? And what interventions work to keep boys in school?