Smaller percentage of men in their prime are working than in the Great Depression

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A smaller percentage of American men in their prime are employed than during the Great Depression, when nearly one-in-five American men were out of work.

Over 67 percent of the labor force participated in 2000. If labor force participation were at 2000 levels today, there would be an estimated 10 million more jobs, the Washington Post reports. The participation rate for men has fallen around 13 percent over the last fifty years.

Men aged 20 and older without paid work have more than doubled, surging to 32 percent in the past half-century, according to the Post.

The reason for this large drop in male employment turns out to be voluntary. Men who are actively not seeking work comprise more than two and a half times the number of men out of work, according to government statistics. That’s right, only 15 percent of men 25 to 54 who are unemployed list their reason for unemployment as they could not find work, the Post reports.

The men out of work actually fall in the higher third of the lowest income bracket quintile, largely because many receive government benefits packages and are bolstered by their relative family income, according to the Post.

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