Posting in Education
Compounded by profound economic shifts, three forces have been driving down men's average income in the U.S. -- slowing educational attainment, more leaving the workforce and more on disability.
The gender income gap seen in U.S. workplaces still favors men, though it has been gradually shrinking. And part of the reason the gap is closing is that while women have been earning more, men have been earning less.
In a new report published in the Milken Institute Review, Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney point to an eye-opening trend: The median wage of the American male worker has declined by 28%, or almost $13,000 (after accounting for inflation) in the four decades since 1968.
There are some profound implications on lifestyle in situations in which husbands do earn less than their wives, as recently explored by SmartPlanet colleague Audrey Quinn. Audrey cites a study by Hanna Rosin, whose new book, The End of Men: And the Rise of Women, documents the shift taking place.
The Atlantic's Derek Thompson, who surfaced the Greenstone-Looney analysis, points to Rosin's observation that nearly half of the jobs created in the last 15 years have been in government, health care, and education, which historically have been more likely to employ more women. Male-dominated sectors such as manufacturing have decreased as a share of the economy. Lately, construction has also been in decline, leading some pundits to refer to the recent recession as a "mancession."
What forces are at work that are actually decreasing the average income for men? There's been a trend toward earlier retirement, but the authors adjusted for this possibility, and found the income drop was just as pronounced among men between the ages of 30 and 50.
Greenstone and Looney point to three main long-term factors impacting men's wage growth:
- There's fewer men working. The percentage of men working full time has decreased from 83% to 66% between 1968 and 2009. The authors point to data within the Census’ Current Population Survey, in which the largest contributors to rising nonemployment can be categorized, in order of importance, as “ill or disabled,” “unable to find work,” “retired,” “homemaker,” “in school” and “institutionalized” (mostly in prisons).
- There's been a slowdown in educational attainment among men. "While changes in the market driven by technology and globalization have continued, the skills of American men are no longer keeping up. Male college completion rates peaked in 1977, a few years after the end of the Vietnam War, and then barely changed over the next 30 years. This slowdown in educational attainment for men is puzzling because attainment among women has continued to rise, and higher education is richly rewarded in the labor market."
- More working-age men are on disability insurance. "The percentage of prime-aged men receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) doubled from 2.4% in 1970 to 4.8% in 2009. Much of the increase in SSDI claims can be traced to declining labor market opportunities for less-skilled workers, which made benefits more attractive than the wages available in the market. Once receiving disability insurance, workers have few incentives to leave – they are essentially not allowed to work while on SSDI, and there are few incentives for employers to make accommodations for workers with disabilities."
How to reverse this trend? The options are few and difficult, Greenstone and Looney admit. But a good place to start is to encourage greater education and training. Competing in today's global economy requires workers with both technology and visionary skills -- and there simply isn't enough of it to go around to sustain U.S. businesses in the long run. Education and training efforts are not keeping up with the rate of change.
Sep 12, 2012
Just an aside comment here. The mention about a decline of college educated males after '77, could be a sign of an unintended effect. The old GI bill had a time limit of 10yrs after service in the military (I'm not sure of what the current bill has.). Part of this was a scaling back of military benefits after the Vietnam conflict. I wonder if this could be a partial trigger by reducing the ability of guys to afford college? If so what about when we start scaling back the budget for ex-service members? There WILL be calls to reduce spending just like last time. Maybe that will set us up for a future downturn in skill levels and education when we NEED both.
"Male-dominated sectors such as manufacturing have decreased as a share of the economy" deserves more attention. There's off-shoring, there's automation - large numbers of men replaced by fewer people working in robotics - and there's the decline of labor unions, depressing wage growth for the men who remain. If not for local regulations, many highly paid construction workers building residences would have been replaced by lower wage factory workers.
While the general trend of women versus men in the labor pool is accurate, the statistics cited here make male employment look a lot worse than it is. First of all, the total workforce participation rate for men and women combined as of September 5, 2012 is 63.5% (see http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11300000/ ). One of the biggest problems with our economy is that it has been steadily declining (it was at 66.5% in January, 2002). It's also why the unemployment rate has been going down despite a hiring rate that can't even keep up with population growth -- people keep leaving the labor pool and don't get counted in the unemployment rate. As of August, 2012, if you break it down by sexes in the civilian non-institutionalized population over 20, the male participation rate is currently at 72.7%, the female participation rate is at 59.3%. There are currently about 6.5 million more men than women in the labor force in this category even though women outnumber men in this age range by 17.2 million. See http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t01.htm .
Modern society, and to much extent, a few overly pushy women and the men that really go overboard sucking up to them, as well as overly effeminate men, if you can call them 'men', has pushed the emasculation of the male ideal in every aspect. No wonder men are not motivated to work, to get more education, and no wonder if they are injured and end up on SSDI, they have little desire to return to a politically correct, 'sensitive' work environment. Are we men or mice?
Other studies have shown that women under 28 are on average earning MORE than their male peers for the very reasons sited here. One interesting study found that the overall average income for women STEM graduates is still lower than men because most schools still encourage women students into teaching professions and men into industry. Schools do not pay young teachers as well as industry yet industry is called sexist because of the pay gap. No wants to blame the sexist STEM school curriculum stuck in the 19th century where only women are encouraged to go into teaching.
Many economists blame the overall decline in the labor force on the growing government dependency being fostered by big government advocates over the past 20 years. The explosion in food stamp participation over the past 3 years is unrivaled against any past recession. The growth has been driven largely through aggressive government advertising and a loosening of the program qualifications. The ongoing roll back of the Clinton welfare reforms mirrors the downward trend in female work participation you discuss. These politics of poverty where votes are bought with benefits have a huge impact on society. When people are encouraged not to work those are the economic numbers you see.
...is that you make if viable. This week's employment statistics are proof of this. Employment (U-1) remains mostly static, but workforce participation (U-6) is the lowest it's been since the last major recession of the early '80s. How can this be? Obviously more people than ever before are finding it survivable to remain unemployed.