“In the half-century between 1965 and 2015, work rates for the American male spiraled relentlessly downward, and an ominous “flight from work” commenced…The collapse of male work is due almost entirely to a flight out of the labor force—and that flight has on the whole been voluntary. The fact that only 1 in 7 prime-age men are not in the labor force points to a lack of jobs as the reason they are not working.”Pardon the interruption Nick but I have a couple of problems already. The relentless spiral started with the Great Recession as any downward trend before that was quite mild. But you seem to contradict yourself already. You note there is a lack of jobs even as your measure of its importance is very suspect. And yet you claim it is a flight from work. A decline in the labor force participation rate is not necessarily a voluntary leaving of the labor force. I guess the AEI never heard of the discouraged worker effect. But let’s have Nicholas continue:
“America’s prime-male workforce participation has been declining at a virtually linear rate for half a century–a trajectory unaffected by good times or recessions.”Another misrepresentation akin to this relentless spiral but don’t let me interrupt:
“these unworking men are floated by other household members (wives, girlfriends, relatives) and by Uncle Sam.”I am unaware of some Congressional decision to expand the safety net so is he saying hard working ladies are taking in lazy boyfriends for their good lucks? I can only speak for my city but this does not describe the dating scene in Manhattan. I’m sorry Nick – please continue:
“There is one other important piece to this puzzle, and it has to do with crime and punishment. Everyone knows that millions of criminal offenders today are behind bars–but few consider that many millions more are in the general population: ex-prisoners, probation cases and convicted felons who never served time. In all, America may now be home to over 20 million persons with a felony conviction in their past, and over 1 in 8 adult men. Men with a criminal history have much worse odds of being or staying in the labor force, regardless of their ethnicity or educational level. The explosive growth of our felon population, unfortunately, helps to explain some of the otherwise puzzling peculiarities of America’s male work crisis.”I’m having a difficult time squaring this spin with the decline in the crime rate over the past generation. But here is the one thing neither Nick nor Tyler bothered to square with this alleged inward shift of the labor supply curve story. Under their story, real wages would have increased. And yet, real wage growth has been quite weak. Do they teach basic supply and demand at GMU or the AEI anymore?