It makes for sobering reading. In recent months the job market looked to be on the rise, offering hope that the economy might finally be getting back on track. But data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that nearly 20 per cent of America’s core workforce are out of a job.
After five years of struggles, it is a sobering reminder of how far the country still has to go.
Two in 10 or 17 per cent of men aged 25 to 54 – traditionally the backbone of the workforce – are unemployed.
Just five years ago 88 per cent of prime-age men were holding down steady jobs. Going back to the 1940s through 70s more than 90 per cent were in employment.
More shocking still is the fact the number of 25 to 54-year-old men with a job (45.9 million) is actually lower than during the height of the recession, which ran from December 2007 to June of 2009.
SmartMoney compared that data to the entire population and noted that, by that measure, just 75 percent of prime-age men currently have a full time job.
Many able workers who lost their job during the recession have struggled to get another job. The data shows that those who have managed to find more work are not always doing the type of thing they want.
Georgetown University professor Harry Holzer, an expert in labour market data, said: ‘This is prime-age men, which is a group that, you know, should be working at very high levels.
‘Relatively few prime age men choose to work part-time.’
Holzer said there has been some real progress for working men in recent months, but a look at long-term trends shows that we still have far to go.
He’s particularly concerned about working-age men who do not have a higher education and have been hit hard by cuts in fields such as manufacturing and construction.
‘They were having a hard time even before the recession hit, and they really got slammed by the recession,’ he said. ‘That’s a problematic group that we need to think about more seriously.’