“…As might be expected, economists don’t agree on why so many men have left the workforce. Some possible factors they cite: There’s less of a stigma today if a man doesn’t work. Union clout has declined. More men are in early retirement receiving disability benefits. New technology has eliminated manufacturing jobs. And competition from abroad moved others overseas.
Autor says many service sector jobs that remain — in restaurants and retail, for example — don’t pay as well as the factory jobs that disappeared.
And with so many men in the prime of life missing from the workforce it can’t help but take a toll on the economy, Eberstadt says.
“The country is going to be less rich. They’re going to be less rich. Growth is going to be slower. It’s going to have really bad effects on wealth differences in the United States,” he says.
So what can be done? Certainly more education and better education would make a difference. But that’s a profound, long-term challenge. David Autor says there’s one smaller fix that would help — expand the earned income tax credit. It’s a subsidy that supports low-income workers when they find jobs and keep them. Right now, it primarily benefits women and children rather than single men.”