About 13 percent of American men in this age group are not working, up from 5 percent in the late 1960ís. The difference represents 4 million men who would be working today if the employment rate had remained where it was in the 1950ís and 60ís.
Most of these missing men are, like Mr. Beggerow, former blue-collar workers with no more than a high school education. But their ranks are growing at all education and income levels. Refugees of failed Internet businesses have spent years out of work during their 30ís, while former managers in their late 40ís are trying to stretch severance packages and savings all the way to retirement.
What percentage of the officially non-working are earning a living with under-the-table work? Is that percentage rising or dropping? The rise in the number of illegals and of men who are not officially working has created a glut of those who are willing to do work off the books. So I would expect off-the-books jobs to be in short supply.
Government has served as an enabler of some of this trend toward not working. About a quarter of the men who aren't working and not looking for a job collect disability benefits from the US government's Social Security program.
But the fastest growing source of help is a patchwork system of government support, the main one being federal disability insurance, which is financed by Social Security payroll taxes. The disability stipends range up to $1,000 a month and, after the first two years, Medicare kicks in, giving access to health insurance that for many missing men no longer comes with the low-wage jobs available to them.
No federal entitlement program is growing as quickly, with more than 6.5 million men and women now receiving monthly disability payments, up from 3 million in 1990. About 25 percent of the missing men are collecting this insurance.
The ailments that qualify them are usually real, like back pain, heart trouble or mental illness. But in some cases, the illnesses are not so serious that they would prevent people from working if a well-paying job with benefits were an option.
The disability program, in turn, is an obstacle to working again. Taking a job holds the risk of demonstrating that one can earn a living and is thus no longer entitled to the monthly payments. But staying out of work has consequences. Skills deteriorate, along with the desire for a paying job and the habits that it requires.
The decline in availability of well paying blue collar jobs leaves a lot of men feeling that work brings in too little money to be worth it. But how are they surviving?
Non-working men have become less likely to be married.
The missing men are also more likely to live alone. Nearly 60 percent are divorced, separated, widowed or never married, up from 50 percent a decade earlier, the Census Bureau reports.
By contrast, only 30% of the working men are not married.
Non-working men sleep too much.
He also gets more sleep, regularly more than nine hours, a characteristic of men without work. As the months pass, they average almost nine-and-a-half hours a night, about 80 minutes more than working men, according to an analysis of time-use surveys by Harley Frazis and Jay Stewart, economists at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The best survival rates were found among those who slept 7 hours per night. The study showed that a group sleeping 8 hours were 12 percent more likely to die within the six-year period than those sleeping 7 hours, other factors being equal. Even those with as little as 5 hours sleep lived longer than participants with 8 hours or more per night.
Stay busy. It is good for your health.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2006 August 02 09:42 PM Economics Demographic|