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Millennial men are working less than they were pre-recession

Two people in suits flip through job offerings at career fair.
Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Men between the ages of 25-34 are participating in the job market — that is, working or looking for a job — at lower rates than they were prior to the 2008 financial crisis (86.8% then vs. 86.1% now), according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, despite recent wage growth and lower unemployment.

The bottom line: 500,000 more men would currently be working or looking for employment if their participation was at pre-2008 levels, Bloomberg reports.

The big picture: Several economists have said the drop has contributed to a simultaneous dip in what they characterize as "marriageable" men, which has resulted in fewer marriages and higher rates of children being born out of wedlock. This, they say, can lead to future financial instability for families.

How we got here:

  • Men in the 25-34 age group graduated from high school and college just as the job market fell into stagnation following the 2008 financial downturn, and many went back to school due to the failing job market.
  • Many were also shut out of jobs in the manufacturing sector, which are "dead-end jobs" anyway, according to a JFF and Burning Glass Technologies study.
  • The top reason for not working was disability or illness (32.9% cited this in 2016, according to an analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City).
  • The opioid epidemic may also be a factor, given the workforce has fallen significantly in areas with high concentrations of opioid prescriptions.

The other side: Women in the same age group have surpassed their pre-2008 job market participation rate (it was 70.9% then and is now 74.0%).

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