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Curious what y’all thought.

Where are all the men? They're finishing high school and going to college.

The author of this thinkpiece is looking at the very topline labor force participation rate, but not really digging into the weeds of what it reflects. It is true that the overall male labor force participation rate has fallen to about 67%. But the BLS defines working age population as starting at sixteen - which means that millions and millions of men that are part of the working age population are also 'school age.'

So then - the BLS provides a breakdown of the civilian labor force participation rate by sex and age:

The participation rate for working age men (age 16 and older) has fallen from 75% to 67.7%. But the participation rate for men aged 25-54 is 88%. So it's not as if a third of men are somehow living their grown-up lives without holding down a job. And that labor force participation rate hasn't really changed all that much from 20 years ago, when it was about 92%.

What has changed a lot? School-aged men. Here's the figures for the 16-24 year old age brackets:

2000 2020
16 to 19 52.8% 34.1%
20 to 24 82.6% 71.0%

The first row reflects the fact that high-school dropout rates have been declining fairly steadily, and have fallen by a little more than a third:

...and the second row reflects the fact that college enrollment has also risen (though not nearly as much as high-school retention rates).

Once you realize that the topline figure is mostly reflecting the labor choices of people under the age of 25 or over the age of 55, it becomes clear that you're looking more at education and early-retirement choices and less at a 'job-free' lifestyle that's sweeping the nation....

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