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Men Not at Work: Over 25% of US Males Age 25-34 Earned Poverty Level Wages in 2013


The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) recently released shocking numbers which show over one-fourth of men between the ages of 25-34 earned poverty level wages in 2013. The same numbers have dropped for women in recent decades, while they more than doubled for men since 1979. The graph to the right, created by EPI, shows the share of male and female workers earning poverty wages between the ages of 25-44.  

In 2013, the poverty line was calculated as working full-time, year round, while earning $11.49 an hour or less.

Released around the Father’s Day holiday, the figures show a crisis in the American economy wherein parents are being asked to do more and more while earning less and less. This reminder of who exactly is working for the lowest wages highlights another scary demographic segment: 25-34 year old men who are not in the workforce or pursuing an education at all.

In an op-ed for the New York Times, Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute touched on the jobs deficit and how it effects a generation now in charge of raising the next.  Looking at the numbers, the problem becomes clear: Not only are many fathers working low-wage jobs, many simply aren’t working:

In 1953, just 14 percent of adult American men were neither working nor seeking work. Today, that rate has more than doubled, to 30 percent. And this doesn’t only reflect an aging population with more retired men: Just after World War II, 8 percent of noninstitutionalized males ages 25 to 54 were not working. Today, 17 percent of that same group of men are idle.

Through the lens of parenting, a very real national emergency comes to focus, one which suggests the next generation of Americans will be increasingly raised in poverty or absenteeism. Sadly, there is little being done legislatively to reverse this course.  Less spending power means less opportunity, less tax revenue, and less stability. The only things growing? Income inequality.

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