International Finance

Exploring male full-time employment realities

IFM_ male full-time employment
Some studies suggest that stable employment might become a thing of the past for upcoming generations

According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, men’s employment in the United States hit a 20-year high in 2023, with nearly 90% of males between the ages of 25 and 54 employed. It reinforces the widespread belief, which some could even call a stereotype, that full-time work is the standard for males in America.

However, analysing employment at a specific moment obscures crucial data regarding an individual’s capacity for long-term employment. A different picture emerges from a new study, which covered the working lives of male baby boomers over more than 20 years.

Men’s labour force participation has been continuously dropping since the 1970s, and workers are facing more long-term unemployment, shorter job stints, and increased job insecurity because of this precarious labour market.

The notion that most women “opt-out” of the workforce has already been disproven by studies demonstrating that most women work steadily and full-time. It questions if there was more to the picture of men’s employment.

These long-term patterns were identified after examining data from over 4,500 men gathered over 25 years. The quantity of time these guys spent working, looking for work when unemployed, and not looking for work while out of labour was what we were looking for.

Surprisingly, just 41% of late baby boomer men (those born in 1979 between the ages of 14 and 21) had steady, continuous employment, which we characterised as working nearly every week of the year between the ages of 27 and 49. This group of males was formerly believed to have had a “lockstep” approach to employment, joining the workforce as soon as they completed their education and working until they retired.

Most males, it turned out, didn’t match this stereotype. Roughly 25% of them didn’t find stable work until they were almost 50. Another fourth of the population just found part-time jobs or as they grew older, found themselves out of work and progressively unemployed. Ultimately, a smaller subset of males stopped working altogether; some did so when they were still relatively young, while others did so when they were approaching middle age.

It is uncertain why these men worked in such a diverse range of ways during what economists refer to as their “prime earning years.” However, it is possible that a contributing factor was the rise in labour market precarity, which is attributed, according to academics, to a decline in unionisation and an increase in layoffs.

Men who worked in “precision production, craft, and repairs” or as “operators, fabricators, and labourers,” for instance, were shown to be more vulnerable to unemployment. These were the well-paying positions that our grandfathers held, but since the 1970s, they have grown fewer and farther between.

Additionally, when men first entered the workforce, they were more vulnerable if they were employed in states with a higher percentage of unionised jobs or in regions with higher unemployment rates. Because of the latter, they were probably more vulnerable to losing their employment when they were outsourced in the 1980s and 1990s.

Men who faced unemployment, a higher rate of job turnover before the age of 25, or difficulties finding a good job due to transportation also appeared to have less consistent work patterns, which may have been a result of being forced to accept “bad jobs” that offered less opportunity for advancement or a living wage.
Researchers present a concerning picture of American employment. If the labour patterns of the baby-boom generation are typified by this type of erratic employment, then what is in store for those who come after them? Is there anything that can be done?

A fascinating fact about occupations was buried deep in the December 2023 jobs report released by the United States government: women now hold 50.04% of all jobs, more than men.

The United States Bureau of Labour Statistics reports that 109,000 more women than men are employed at the moment. Experts predict that as the proportion of working women rises and the proportion of working men falls, this trend will intensify and persist.

“There’s no looking back,” declared Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi, “as women now make up the majority of the workforce. Women are going to dominate the labour market,” Zandi continued.

The economic move away from so-called conventional male-dominated jobs, in sectors like manufacturing, and toward a service-based business model is mirrored by the ongoing expansion in employment for women.

According to Ariane Hegewish, programme director of Employment and Earnings at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, industries with a higher proportion of female employees are expanding, while traditionally male-dominated fields are seeing a fall in employment.

“Women are employed in the growing sectors—education and healthcare, for example,” said Hegewish.

This is supported by the December 2023 jobs data, which shows that 36,000 new jobs were added in the traditionally female-dominated fields of education and health care. Some 21,000 jobs were lost overall in the mining and manufacturing industries, which are generally thought of as being dominated by men. With 58% of employment in government service and 56% in financial-related activities, women are similarly well-represented in these fields.

But women have also begun to work in fields that were traditionally thought to be dominated by males. They have a presence in manufacturing, transportation, and other industries thought to be associated with men, making up around 13.8% of the workforce in the mining and logging sectors.

Professor Betsey Stevenson of the University of Michigan, who formerly served as President Barack Obama’s consultant through the Council of Economic Advisers, stated that women are entering fields where employment growth is more rapid, meaning that this trend is unlikely to change.

The fact that women get more degrees than men is another noteworthy statistic. Women made up 53.3% of doctorate holders, 59.4% of master’s degree holders, and 57.3% of bachelor’s degree holders in the 2016–2017 graduating class. Women will benefit monetarily from this as, according to the Pew Research Centre, having a college degree and an advanced degree is strongly correlated with higher income.

The good news is that the federal government, businesses, and employees can all find answers. According to our research, men who have a college degree may be less likely to experience unemployment/layoffs. The current administration has advocated making education more affordable for workers, which is one way the government may assist this goal.

Studies imply that it would be beneficial for employers to make work less insecure, or more predictable, with more compensation and more control over schedules. Studies also indicate that businesses tend to underestimate the expenses associated with staff turnover. Making occupations more interesting to employees could pay off in terms of retention, given how difficult it has been for firms to maintain full staffing, particularly in retail and service work.

For example, Walmart offers its employees more autonomy over their schedules and more pay. It has been demonstrated that taking such action benefits both employers, by lowering the expenses associated with employee turnover, and employees, by enhancing working conditions and benefits.

To support employees’ ability to form a union, the government may also enact legislation like the “Protecting the Ability to Organise Act,” since unionisation is invariably associated with greater pay and reduced levels of inequality.

The United States has to make the jobs that are already available in the country great employment, not bring back the occupations that our grandfathers held. For instance, the recent “joint employer” decision from the National Labour Relations Board should do this by facilitating national chain employees’ ability to form unions across franchisees, potentially enhancing the working conditions for millions of individuals in the service sector.

Lastly, the government can act to improve the unpleasantness of being unemployed. Studies suggest that people’s careers and health suffer while unemployed. According to one research, workers may find it easier to locate jobs that better suit their skill set if the existing unemployment insurance system is changed by increasing eligibility and establishing progressive wage replacement rates. It could help them find steady employment again.

Some studies suggest that stable employment might become a thing of the past for upcoming generations. The good news is that we can take action to ensure that everyone has access to better jobs and more stable employment by paying attention to the warning.

What's New

Embedded Lending: Lifeline or debt trap?

IFM Correspondent

Velmie empowers startups with innovative solutions: CEO Slava Ivashkin

IFM Correspondent

LockBit ransomware: The global cyber menace

IFM Correspondent

Leave a Comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.