There was a remarkably good piece of economic news on Tuesday: After a long period of stagnation, average wages rose by more than 5 percent in 2015. President Obama trumpeted the fact in a campaign-like speech, and it’s fair to speculate that his surprisingly high job-approval numbers (the most recent poll had him at 58 percent) derive from it.
But there’s a distressing truth hiding in plain sight: Your wages only improve if you have wages. A shocking number of American men don’t. As the demographer Nicholas Eberstadt reveals in his relentlessly eye-opening and profoundly depressing new book, “Men Without Work,” one in six American males of prime age (25-54) are not merely unemployed but have withdrawn from the labor force entirely. That’s 7 million people….
Make no mistake; these aren’t “discouraged workers.” They’re un-workers. Only “about 15 percent of the prime-age men who did not work at all in 2014 stated they were unemployed because they could not find work. In other words, five out of six of prime-age men gave reasons other than a lack of jobs for their absence from the workplace.”
OK, so maybe they’re taking care of their kids while their wives work, or elderly relatives, or doing community service. Nope: They do less of this than either unemployed or fully employed men.
Eberstadt: “These men appear to have relinquished what we think of ordinarily as adult responsibilities not only as breadwinners, but as parents, family members, community members and citizens. Having largely freed themselves of such obligations, they fill their days in the pursuit of more immediate sources of gratification.”
Primary among these is watching TV and movies. They spend an astounding five and a half hours a day at it — three and a half more than working men and two and a half more than unemployed men.
I wonder what they are watching? Porn, sports, something else? Probably video games. It seems that young men are happy for the most part with their situation so while this might be a “crisis” for society, is it for the men? Maybe not, maybe later sometime on down the road.