Employment among ‘prime age’ men declining, triggering 'alarm'

While the U.S. economy continues to show signs of strength and vitality, employment conditions appear to be worsening for one particular group: prime-age males.

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According to experts from Deutsche Bank Research, employment for men between the ages of 25 and 54 (considered prime age) has declined by about 100,000 jobs for each of the past three months.

That’s despite the fact that the U.S. created 224,000 jobs in June. The professional and business services sector, health care, as well as transportation and housing were among the sectors with notable job gains.

Torsten Slok, chief economist and managing director at Deutsche Bank Securities, wrote in a note that the employment trend among prime-age males was an “alarm bell” in the latest jobs report.

The labor force participation rate – which is the share of all employed workers divided by the working age population – remain unchanged at 62.9 percent. The labor force participation rate among men has been on the decline, however – at 69 percent in June, down from 86.2 percent 70 years ago. On the flipside, the trend has reversed for women – the labor force participation rate for females was 57.2 percent in June, up from 32.8 percent in June, 1949.

Research from the Kansas City Federal Reserve noted that the nonparticipation rate among prime-age men rose to 11.4 percent, from 8.2 percent in the two decades ending in 2016. This study attributed the trend to a decline in demand for middle-skill workers and increasing automation, which has rendered certain skills obsolete. The researcher noted this trend was unlikely to reverse if current labor conditions hold. It could have negative effects on the U.S. economy, as well.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said during congressional testimony on Wednesday that the opioid crisis was another factor weighing on labor force participation among younger males.

As previously reported by FOX Business, the white working class is also in decline. That’s according to researchers at the St. Louis Federal Reserve, which found between 1989 and 2016, the number of white working class families declined, along with their share of income and wealth. This change is unique among the major socioeconomic groups.

In 1989, white families accounted for 55 percent of all working-class families, but by 2016 their share had declined 13 percentage points. Over the same time period, the total income share of white working class families declined to 27 percent from 45 percent.

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“Today, the white working class is greatly diminished. Alone among major socioeconomic groups defined by race, ethnicity and college degree status, the white working class shrank not only as a share of the population but even in absolute numbers over the past two decades. Their long-term economic and financial declines are even steeper,” researchers wrote.

Researchers attributed the decline to diminished advantages when compared with those of the nonwhite working class – like more years of education and plentiful high-paying jobs available in their communities.