Men supposedly dropping from the labor force because of social status

This article was a head scratcher.

But part of the population has been silently walking away from work for several decades—well before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Men without four-year college degrees, between the ages of 25 and 54, have left the workforce in higher numbers than other groups. And they’re leaving in part because of their perceived social status relative to better-educated men of similar age, according to a new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Non-college-educated men have seen their pay shrink by more than 30% since 1980 compared to the average earnings of all other prime-age workers. Their weekly earnings have declined 17%, while those of college-educated men rose by 20%, adjusting for inflation. That earnings loss has caused a decline in their social status, prompting them to walk away from work entirely, Pinghui Wu, the author of the study, wrote.

“For many workers, a job not only offers financial security, it also affirms their status, which is tied to their position relative to their age peers and many social outcomes,” Wu wrote.

The study found that the decline in earnings for non-college-educated men over the last four decades has increased their likelihood of leaving the labor force by nearly half a percentage point. That also accounts for 44% of the increase in their exit rate.

Even though the pattern of men withdrawing from the labor force dates back several years, it has been more pronounced in recent years, as a number of men who left the workforce during the pandemic chose not to return.

Nearly 89.7% of men between 35 to 44 years were looking for jobs or already working as of November. That’s down from 90.9% before the pandemic, according to the New York Times.

Younger white men in particular were more likely to leave when their expected wages fell relative to their more educated peers, according to the Fed study. Unlike men, women have not seen the same level of decline in their wages based on education. That group has seen a 32% increase in weekly earnings, irrespective of their educational qualifications.

Essentially, because white men and other men are supposedly seeing their wages drop they’re leaving the workforce more often. This seems like garbage post-hoc analysis.

For as much as many people and companies say that you shouldn’t discuss pay, there’s not a lot of pay discussing going on for the most part. And even when someone hears about pay being discussed they’re not going to rage-quit their job because someone makes more than them. They’re just going to update their resume and apply for a different job or ask for a raise.

What is more likely is that failure to launch is increasing. One of the men I know is in his mid 30s and has basically given up. He’s working part time if at all and just living at his parents house after he couldn’t really find much job prospects after college.

I suspect this is the case with most of the statistics. They only look at the general aggregate and it seems like men are dropping out as wages are dropping. However, failure to launch has less to do with wages but the detonation of various college degrees that promised to have certain job prospects where there are few — AKA the “liberal arts” degrees in gender studies and whatever as opposed to STEM. Even STEM isn’t what it once was where the only useful science degrees are the ones that are related to engineering such as petroleum or chemical engineering. Biology and other science degrees are virtually worthless except as a stepping stone to professional degrees like medical doctors, nursing, and so on.

A solid job but underpaid men are still going to take it. This can be easily improved upon. But the total loss of job prospects with no way out leads men into a downward spiral of hopelessness. You see this all throughout the rust belt and cities where steel and other manufacturing jobs basically tanked.

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5 Responses to Men supposedly dropping from the labor force because of social status

  1. Pingback: Nobody’s Heroes 1 | okrahead

  2. Rowena says:

    A man needs a job to support himself. A man needs a status job to get a wife. Remove incentive for latter. And he will shift to former. Men are still working. But he is working to support ONLY himself. Hence – the focus is now – Are the basics covered? Is it easy? After all how much money do you need if you are a single guy living in your parent’s basement and your entertainment is video games? Christian men have purpose and mission – but for a regular man without a wife – he just needs a job. Not a career.

    Feminism sold the lie that work outside the home was fulfilling and empowering. It is not. ALL JOBS require WORK. And work as per Genesis was made more difficult as part of punishment of Adam’s sin. Men still took on that PUNISHMENT because society EXPECTED men to do so. In order to fulfil their TRADITIONAL role of protector and provider. And women had the TRADITIONAL role of being keeper of the home. But when more and more women take on the traditional role of men – what incentive is there for a man to take on the punishment?

    As a corollary – How many women would take on the punishment of pain in labour to give birth to children if men could somehow magically take that on? What would be their incentive to do so?

  3. Oscar says:

    Younger white men in particular were more likely to leave when their expected wages fell relative to their more educated peers, according to the Fed study.

    Undoubtedly, affirmative action is involved. There’s not much an individual man can do about that, but there’s still a lot a man can do to improve his situation. For example, this guy….

    One of the men I know is in his mid 30s and has basically given up. He’s working part time if at all and just living at his parents house after he couldn’t really find much job prospects after college.

    …. could stop mooching off his parents and find a job unrelated to his degree. How many years has he wasted since college? Ten? More? And why are his parents allowing him to mooch off them?

    For example, I work for an electronics manufacturer. There are people here who started as assemblers making $18/hour, climbed up the ladder and ten years later are manufacturing supervisors or project managers making six figures. No degree required.

    Obviously, it sucks taking a job for $18/hour at 25 when you have a college degree. You know what sucks worse? Doing the same thing at 35. You know what sucks even worse than that? Doing it at 45.

    The longer you sit around waiting for something good to happen, the harder it is to get off your ass and make it happen. And, when you finally do make it happen, the positive effects won’t accrue nearly as much as they would have if you’d started earlier.

    May as well start now.

  4. jvangeld says:

    I accepted a discount in wages for a perceived status boost for a decade. It’s a long story filled with a raging case of nice guyism and “I’m just happy to have a job.” I never asked for a raise at that job. They gave me a few, but by the time I left I was making 1/3 of what my peers in the profession were, between low wages and low hours.

    I got the job in the summer of 2008 when I was half-way through community college. For the next 18 months I was fully focused, using the tools at my disposal at their maximum efficiency. They bumped my pay a bit during that time, but by the end of that project the recession had hit. I talked with other employees and they weren’t getting raises, so I didn’t bother to ask. I was laid off and rehired a few times, and the bosses praised my flexibility. But my ambition dried up. I went to a few interviews, but wasn’t hired anywhere else.

    Finally, in 2018 I got a job closer to home and I read Hipsters on Food Stamps by The Last Psychiatrist. And I realized that I was acting exactly the same as the NYT author/cat lady that he talks about. I started to pull my head out of my ass at that point. But it took awhile to change my habits and attitudes. I’m in a much better place now.

  5. locustsplease says:

    I personally don’t see any more men choosing not to work than before. The ones before had somekind of family that wouldn’t let them grow up and leave. Or they were a manipulative chad who would live off girlfriend. It’s hard to tell now the govt gives them so much if they fill out the forms and want to sit around they can. A buddy’s daughter has a cash job and lives off the govt. Brand new car and a home owner. The rest of us have to make responsible decisions to make that alone with half a dozen kids!!!

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