Peter Coy of BusinessWeek recently reported on the continuing disparate impact of the recession on male U.S. employment v. female. This observation is turning into Nascar reporting - an endless loop of repetitive stories that add little to the conversation.
Economists are concerned that the recovery will extend an ominous trend of disengagement for male workers that stretches back six decades. The share of American men aged 16 to 64 who are employed has fallen in a sawtooth pattern, from nearly 85 percent in the early 1950s to less than 65 percent now. As the chart above shows, the rate falls steeply in recessions and does not get back to its previous high in recoveries. (Women's employment-to-population ratio has trended higher over the years.)
What's interesting is that the two unemployed men that Coy chooses to highlight in the story are not exactly sympathetic profiles. One is a 19-year-old who says "he's talented" but was expelled from high school and was fired from a construction job for fighting. The other is a 55-year-old who was working in "corporate travel" when he was laid off. News flash: it isn't that hard for executives to plan their own travel now.
Reading these stories convinces me not that there is a fundamental unfairness toward men in the job market - it's that employers naturally favor employees who finish school, don't fight and focus on providing lasting value. Not all of these people are women but if they are - why would employers owe anyone a job just for being a man?