The Lean Years (New York Times)
The U.S. will have to produce 10 million new jobs just to get back to the unemployment levels of 2007. There’s no sign that that is going to happen soon, so we’re looking at an extended period of above 8 percent unemployment.
The biggest impact is on men. Over the past few decades, men have lagged behind women in acquiring education and skills. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at age 22, 185 women have graduated from college for every 100 men who have done so. Furthermore, men are concentrated in industries where employment is declining (manufacturing) or highly cyclical (construction).
So men have taken an especially heavy blow during this crisis. The gap between the male and female unemployment rates has reached its highest level since the government began keeping such records.
It’s pretty easy to take these economic facts and draw stark cultural consequences. Long-term unemployment is one of the most devastating experiences a person can endure, equal, according to some measures, to the death of a spouse. Men who are unemployed for a significant amount of time are more likely to drink more, abuse their children more and suffer debilitating blows to their identity. Unemployed men are not exactly the most eligible mates. So in areas of high unemployment, marriage rates can crumble — while childbearing rates out of wedlock do not.
If you recall, the Korean recently wrote about how Korea's high unemployment among young adults is leading to the creation of a deeply pissed off social group that wields disproportionate amount of impact on politics thanks to the Internet. We could be seeing the same thing in America within the next ten years. Not a pleasant picture, certainly.
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