‘America is now home to a vast army of jobless men’
Over the past two generations, America has suffered a quiet catastrophe: the collapse of work–for men. In the half-century between 1965 and 2015, work rates for the American male spiraled relentlessly downward, and an ominous “flight from work” commenced, with ever greater numbers of working-age men exiting the labor force. America is now home to a vast army of jobless men no longer even looking for work—more than 7 million between the ages of 25 and 54, the traditional prime of working life. (Work rates have fallen in recent years for women too, but the male work crisis has been under way much longer and is of greater magnitude.)

Read more at TIMEAlso available in the October 03, 2016 issue of TIME. 

NPR: All Things Considered

At 4.9 percent, the nation’s unemployment rate is half of what it was at the height of the Great Recession. But that number hides a big problem: Millions of men in their prime working years have dropped out of the workforce — meaning they aren’t working or even looking for a job.

It’s a trend that’s held true for decades and has economists puzzled.

In the 1960s, nearly 100 percent of men between the ages of 25 and 54 worked. That’s fallen over the decades.

Read and listen to the full story at

Wall Street Journal Interview
NPR Interview

Unemployment is at its lowest in nearly 10 years. However,  almost one in eight men is out of the labor force entirely, neither working nor even looking for work. So who are these men and what’s keeping them out of the job market? Today, a conversation with Nicholas Eberstadt and Anirban Basu about the historically high number of men in their prime working years who are not in the workforce.

Listen here.

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed

Labor Day is an appropriate moment to reflect on a quiet catastrophe: the collapse, over two generations, of work for American men. During the past half-century, work rates for U.S. males spiraled relentlessly downward. America is now home to a vast army of jobless men who are no longer even looking for work—roughly seven million of them age 25 to 54, the traditional prime of working life.

This is arguably a crisis, but it is hardly ever discussed in the public square. Received wisdom holds that the U.S. is at or near “full employment.” Most readers have probably heard this, perhaps from the vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, who said in a speech last week that “it is a remarkable, and perhaps underappreciated, achievement that the economy has returned to near-full employment in a relatively short time after the Great Recession.”

Near-full employment? In 2015 the work rate (the ratio of employment to population) for American males age 25 to 54 was 84.4%. That’s slightly lower than it had been in 1940, 86.4%, at the tail end of the Great Depression. Benchmarked against 1965, when American men were at genuine full employment, the “male jobs deficit” in 2015 would be nearly 10 million, even after taking into account an older population and more adults in college.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal. 

Fox News - Tucker Carlson

An interview on Fox News with Tucker Carlson.

Watch here.

NPR Interview

Economist Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute paints a bleak picture of the U.S. economy. He describes millions of Americans out of work, and addicted to drugs and screens.

Listen Here.

New Boston Post

The astonishing absence of men in the U.S. workplace is the subject of a new book, Men Without Work,by Nicholas Eberstadt. In this short but compelling work, Eberstadt, who holds the Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute, documents that in 2015 nearly 22 percent of U.S. men between the ages of twenty and sixty-five were not engaged in work of any kind. The work rate for this group was nearly 12.5 percentage points below its 1948 level.  Even more remarkable in a country where industriousness has always been prized as a virtue, a monthly average of nearly one in six prime-age men (ages 25 to 54) in 2015 had no paying job of any kind. In the 1960s, approximately 6 percent of prime-age men were not at work; currently more than 16 percent have no paid work in any given month. And even more worrisome is the fact that most of these men are not even looking for work.

Read more here.

Radio Show Interview

Audio: Nicholas Eberstadt, author of “Men Without Work” on why so many American men aren’t working and aren’t trying to work.

Listen here.

Star Tribune

Men of prime working age have disappeared from the labor force in recent years at a rate not seen since the Great Depression, though the problem isn’t as severe in Minnesota, an economist who studies the phenomenon said this week.

Most of them are choosing not to work, said Nicholas Eberstadt, economist at the American Enterprise Institute, and the effects of their choices are ­rippling through American society.

Read more here.

CNS News

What is causing this problem and what can be done about it? Nicholas Eberstadt explores this issue in “Men Without Work: The Invisible Crisis.”

Eberstadt is a long-time fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and one of the leading experts in global population trends. (AEI has been a client since 1990. Most recently I spent six months in 2016 providing research to AEI. I do not currently have any contracts with AEI.) He is also, for reasons I have never fully understood, one of the world’s keenest observers of North Korea. He doesn’t usually cover American domestic issues, but anyone interested in social trends has to take him very seriously.

Read more here.

AEI Interview on Facebook
The American Conservative

Young men are gradually abandoning work. Many aren’t even “unemployed,” because they’re not looking for a job. And the problem is slowly creeping onto the national radar.

Nicholas Eberstadt, a demographer with the American Enterprise Institute and author of the forthcoming Men Without Work, recently laid out the uncomfortable facts in the Wall Street Journal:

Near-full employment? In 2015 the work rate (the ratio of employment to population) for American males age 25 to 54 was 84.4%. That’s slightly lower than it had been in 1940, 86.4%, at the tail end of the Great Depression. Benchmarked against 1965, when American men were at genuine full employment, the “male jobs deficit” in 2015 would be nearly 10 million, even after taking into account an older population and more adults in college.

… For prime working-age men, the jobless rate jumped to 15% from 6% [over the past 50 years]. Most of the postwar surge involved voluntary departure from the labor force. … This is at least somewhat true throughout the affluent West, but the U.S. has led the pack.

No one knows exactly why this is happening, though declining demand for low-skill work seems to be a factor. But two new pieces of research suggest answers to two important questions: Who, if anyone, is replacing these young men in the workforce? And what is replacing work in these young men’s lives?


The unemployment numbers for August released last week showed that teenagers, a demographic group that has been dormant in the labor force in recent years, have experienced significant progress. The improvement, however, is further evidence that urgent attention must be paid to another group, the so-called missing men, the 7 million males age 24 to 54 who have disappeared from the workforce.

There are two reasons that tracking the teen unemployment rate is so valuable. First, these workers don’t have the structural or displacement concerns that their older counterparts sometimes have. There are no teen workers with mortgages on underwater houses, or whose jobs have been outsourced or who have been displaced by technology. Teens are more mobile and flexible than all other age groups. In this way, their unemployment rate is a better signal about cyclical slack in the labor market.

And second, of all the demographic groups tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, teenagers have the highest unemployment rate, by far. For people over 25 with less than a high school degree, the rate is around 7 percent. For teenagers, it’s 15.7 percent, down from a high of 27.2 percent in 2009. Since 1970, the teen unemployment rate has spent little time below 15 percent.

Read more at Bloomberg. 

The Christian Science Monitor

By most accounts – and despite Donald Trump’s rhetoric to the contrary – the American economy is on the upswing. The unemployment rate is back to the lows before the Great Recession. On Tuesday, the Census Bureau said that median household income rose 5.2 percent last year, bringing it closer to its peak in 1999.

But behind this bump in incomes and employment is a more troubling tally: For decades, an increasing number of adult men have been dropping out of the civilian workforce. From a postwar peak of 98 percent, the share of men aged 25 to 54 in the workforce has fallen to 88 percent.

In all, 7 million prime-age males have given up looking for work, according to Nicholas Eberstadt, a political economist at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think tank in Washington. In a new book, “Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis,” he says the situation is similar to 1940, when a similar-sized pool of idle workers languished at the tail-end of the Great Depression.

Read more at The Christian Science Monitor.

The Daily Journal: Kankakee Valley, Illinois

The best airplane of World War II was the ME-262 Swallow, a swept-wing jet, the world’s first operational jet fighter. The Germans built 1,347 of them.

The best American plane was the P-51 Mustang, long-range and propeller-driven, it could fly to Berlin and back. We built 15,586 of them.

The Germans also produced the nearly invulnerable Tiger and made 1,347 of them. Meanwhile, American assembly lines constructed 49,234 M-4 Sherman tanks.

 Courage and leadership played crucial roles in winning World War II. But hard work played a big role, too. We simply outworked them — by a large margin. It was a victory won by the assembly-line worker and by Rosie the Riveter, too.

Consider that in the light of a study, “Men Without Work,” summarized by author Nicholas Eberstadt in the Oct. 3 issue of Time. One out of seven men from the ages of 25 to 54 is no longer working. The official unemployment rate covers only men — and women — seeking to work. The real unemployment rate, Eberstadt says, among men, actually is two and a half times higher.

Read more at The Daily Journal. 

The Federalist

Nicholas Eberstadt, scholar in political economy at AEI, joined The Federalist Radio Hour to discuss his new book, “Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis,” and the cultural and economic shifts that have led to a decline in the U.S. labor force.

Eberstadt’s research examines the flight from work and the rise of young men who remain unemployed. “You can draw basically a straight line from 1965 to the present, with respect to this flight from work,” he said. “In no other affluent industrial democracy has this collapse of labor force participation for prime age guys been this acute, as intense as in the United States.”

Read more at The Federalist. 

Financial Times

The impact of technology on the availability of work is much debated these days. It is widely feared that half the jobs in the economy might be eliminated by innovations such as self-driving vehicles, automatic checkout machines and expert systems that trade securities more effectively than humans can.

As with almost everything economic, there is controversy. . . . Now comes Nicholas Eberstadt’s persuasive and important monograph Men Without Work, demonstrating that these issues are not just matters of futurology.

Read more at Financial Times. 

Fox News

From one perspective, things are looking pretty good in America today. The stock market — and U.S. personal wealth holdings — are at or near their all-time highs, and unemployment rates are back down to 5% or less—well below the postwar average, and purportedly even near “full employment,” according to widely received wisdom.
But a closer look reveals something else entirely. These optimistic indicators mask a quiet catastrophe hiding in our shadows. Work rates—officially, the employment to population ratio—have collapsed for men and women alike since the turn of the century, and the shocking truth is that for adult men they are now actually lower than they were in 1940—at the tail end of the Great Depression.


Gateway Pundit

In a recent report, President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers said 83 percent of men in the prime working ages of 25-54 who were not in the labor force had not worked in the previous year. So, essentially, 10 million men are missing from the workforce.

“One in six prime-age guys has no job; it’s kind of worse than it was in the depression in 1940,” says Nicholas Eberstadt, an economic and demographic researcher at American Enterprise Institute who wrote the book Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis. He says these men aren’t even counted among the jobless, because they aren’t seeking work.

Read more at The Gateway Pundit. 

The Globe and Mail

I think we can all let our breath out now. Donald Trump is finished. Hillary Clinton will win. A great calamity will be averted.

Ms. Clinton probably won’t face an immediate financial crisis, as U.S. President Barack Obama did in 2008. The United States’ biggest problem at the moment is more insidious. Millions of able-bodied men have dropped out of society – out of working life, of civic life, of family life. Many of these men belong to the Trumpenproletariat. How to re-engage them may be the biggest domestic challenge the country faces.

Political economist Nicholas Eberstadt calls these men “the unworking,” to distinguish them from people who want work but can’t find it. “America is now home to a vast army of jobless men who are no longer even looking for work,” he writes. “Roughly seven million of them age 25 to 54, the traditional prime of working life.” His new book, Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis, is essential reading for this election cycle.

Read more at The Globe and Mail.

Independent Women's Forum

Based on the official unemployment rate—which held steady at 4.9 percent last month—America’s labor market has fully recovered from the Great Recession. Indeed, many prominent economists, including Federal Reserve officials, believe we have reached “maximum” employment or something very close to it.

Based on another indicator, however, America’s labor market remains stuck in a long-term crisis—a crisis that has gotten significantly worse since 2008.

Simply put: There are millions of American men in their prime working years who have dropped out of the labor force.

Read more at the Independent Women’s Forum.

Investor's Business Daily

While the Fed and government policymakers fret over “full employment,” a new study by one of America’s leading demographers and economists argues that in fact we are in the midst of a full-blown unemployment crisis — one that remains, in his words, “hidden.”

The new jobs report is out. It shows the unemployment rate continuing to hover around 5% while nonfarm payrolls grew a pathetic 151,000 for the month. But even that weak performance doesn’t tell the whole story.

Nicholas Eberstadt, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, argues in a new book called “Men Without Work,” due out next week, that we’re suffering not from full employment, but massive underemployment — in particular, nearly one out of six working-age men have no job and are no longer looking for one. A release for his book calls this “a hidden time bomb with far-reaching economic, social and political consequences.” With 10 million fewer male workers in the labor force than we should have, it’s hard to disagree.

Read more at Investor’s Business Daily.

National Review

Nicholas Eberstadt’s Men Without Work shows how the erosion of family roles contributes to men’s trend away from employment.

One out of six prime-working-age adult males in the United States is not temporarily unemployed, or “between jobs,” or “looking for work.” No, a huge cohort of men in America is now neither employed nor looking for work. They are just skating by on a combination of girlfriends, wives, mothers, and government benefits. Their status, argues Nicholas Eberstadt in Men Without Work, is a “quiet catastrophe.”

Until relatively recently, choosing not to work was a luxury only the wealthy could afford. Everyone else had to keep the wolf from the door (though the temptation to try to live off others has always been with us — see John Smith above). In the 1950s, 98 percent of prime-age males were working or looking for work (i.e. in the labor force). Today it is 88 percent. Recessions have affected labor-force participation, but the downward trend line has been consistent for decades. Only 15 percent of non-working men cite inability to find work as the reason for their idleness.

Read more at the National Review.

The New York Post

There was a remarkably good piece of economic news on Tuesday: After a long period of stagnation, average wages rose by more than 5 percent in 2015. President Obama trumpeted the fact in a campaign-like speech, and it’s fair to speculate that his surprisingly high job-approval numbers (the most recent poll had him at 58 percent) derive from it.

But there’s a distressing truth hiding in plain sight: Your wages only improve if you have wages. A shocking number of American men don’t.

Read more at The New York Post.


Thorstein Veblen, the author of the classic The Theory of the Leisure Class, is probably shouting from somewhere in the great beyond, “Get me rewrite!” Yes, the U.S. now has an entirely new kind of leisure class, and it’s like nothing Mr. Veblen ever saw in his day.

But we don’t need Veblen to dissect the trend. Nicholas Eberstadt has got it covered. And it’s not a pretty picture.

We’re constantly being reminded that the official unemployment rate has come down to 4.9 percent, but that rosy figure doesn’t begin to capture one of the most troubling features of our times: what Eberstadt calls the “collapse of work, over two generations, for American men.”

Read more at Townhall.

The Transom

Looking at the work of Eberstadt and Krueger. “Once upon a time, nearly every man in America worked. In 1948, the labor-force participation rate was a staggering 96.7 percent among men in their prime working years.

“That statistic has been steadily declining ever since. Today, about 11.5 percent of men between the ages of 24-54 are neither employed nor looking for a job. Economists say that these people are “out of the labor force” — and they don’t figure into statistics like the unemployment rate.

“This demographic trend has been the subject of much noise and consternation lately. Nicholas Eberstadt, a demographer at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, calls the development a “quiet catastrophe: the collapse, over two generations, of work for American men.”

Read more at The Transom. 

Value Walk

Working-age males are disappearing from the US workforce at an alarming rate. Men age 25 to 54 now have a lower labor force participation rate than they did in 1940, as the Great Depression was winding down. Millions of men in this age group have virtually no work skills and no way to get them.

One in six men age 25-54 today have no job and most have given up looking for work, which means they are no longer counted as unemployed. At current trends, one in five – or 20% of working-age males — will be out of the labor force in less than a generation. African-American men are twice as likely to be in this condition as either whites or Latinos.



Getting men to work is important because it doesn’t seem like they’re doing anything much better with their time. In his new book, Men Without Work, scholar Nicholas Eberstadt of the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute estimates that men who are out of the labor force gain an extra 2,150 hours of free time each year.

So what do they do? They spend large chunks of time on sleep, grooming and personal care as well as “socializing, relaxing, and leisure,” according to government survey data. That includes five and a half hours a day watching television and movies.

“What is striking, however, is how little of this enormous free-time dividend is devoted to helping others in their family or their community,” Eberstadt concluded.

Before you dismiss these findings as the hand-wringing of a conservative think tank, consider this: The Obama administration largely agrees. A recent report from the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors noted that working-age men who weren’t working — or looking for work — weren’t really contributing much elsewhere. These guys, again, were found to be spending more time on “socializing, relaxing, and leisure,” including watching almost six hours of TV a day.

Read more at VICE.


Nicholas Eberstadt of the center-right American Enterprise Institute released a book, Men Without Work, earlier this year has helped spark many man-centric conversations about labor force participation. Eberstadt argues that if you ignore differences in retirement age, American men are now less likely to work than European men, and that male labor force participation has been declining for a few generations now. This is all true.

Read more at Vox.

The Washington Free Beacon

Probably since time immemorial, each generation has thought the next one lacked industriousness. But for the last half-century, this belief has been true of American men. Even as the economy has grown, a rising share of prime-age males have opted out of work.

Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis, a brief book by Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute, drives this point home forcefully, drawing on an impressive array of data to explain what’s happening and why.

Read more at The Washington Free Beacon.

The Washington Post – Lawrence H. Summers

Job destruction caused by technology is not a futuristic concern.  It is something we have been living with for two generations. A simple linear trend suggests that by mid-century about a quarter of men between 25 and 54 will not be working at any moment.

I think this likely a substantial underestimate unless something is done for a number of reasons. First everything we hear and see regarding technology suggests the rate of job destruction will pick up. Think of the elimination of drivers, and of those who work behind cash registers. Second, the gains in average education and health of the workforce over the last 50 years are unlikely to be repeated. Third, to the extent that non-work is contagious, it is likely to grow exponentially rather than at a linear rate. Fourth, declining marriage rates are likely to raise rates of labor force withdrawal given that non-work is much more common for unmarried than married men.

Read more at The Washington Post. 

The Washington Post – George F. Will

“The work rate for adult men has plunged 13 percentage points in a half-century. This ‘work deficit’ of ‘Great Depression–scale underutilization’ of male potential workers is the subject of Nicholas Eberstadt’s new monograph Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis, which explores the economic and moral causes and consequences of this.”

Read more at The Washington Post. 

The Week

The view from the top is that America’s economy is improving, slowly but surely. The jobless rate is a mere 5 percent. The dollar is strong. The markets are at or near record highs. And “we are coming close to our assigned congressional goal of maximum employment,” as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen intoned earlier this year.

You might think this is all good for effective incumbent Hillary Clinton, since economic performance is said to be such a strong indicator of how presidential elections go. If the economy is on the right track, the party in power stays in power. If the economy is foundering, voters throw the bums out.

But look beyond those headline economic numbers trumpeted by the American elite. Because these statistics have a way of disappearing from view an army of men who should be employed but are not.

Nicholas Eberstadt’s brief but extremely informative new book Men Without Work tells the otherwise hidden part of America’s economic story.

Read more at The Week. 

Foreign Affairs

In the United States, the employment rate among prime working-age men (those between the ages of 25 and 54) has been falling for nearly half a century. The political economist Nicholas Eberstadt highlights this trend in a book published last year, Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis, and it is the focus of a recent Foreign Affairs article, “The Dignity Deficit,” by Arthur Brooks. Both Eberstadt and Brooks regard the decline in male employment as a national crisis. Brooks sees it as a “catastrophic failure.” And according to Eberstadt, it is “a problem so urgent, so immense that it should demand immediate attention and action.”

Read more here.