[guest post by JVW]
This post is in honor of a very positive jobs report being released today, just four days before election day.
I saw an aggravating link on a friend’s Facebook wall that I will share with all of you. Bloomberg reports that the strong economy and bang-up job market isn’t quite reaching one large demographic: millennial men, age 25-34. According to them, the number of this cohort in the workforce is about 500,000 lower than would be expected had the numbers returned to their pre-recession levels. The article posits several reasons for this trend, from poor educations (the unemployment rate for men 25-34 with only a high school education was measured at 16.4% in 2016, up from 6.4% two decades earlier) to a lack of motivation to find work, to inflated expectations of what they should be paid for unskilled labor.
But there are other real disadvantages that millennial men face, some of which are their own fault and some of which are not. To begin with, these men grew up during a period when the number of single-parent households was steadily rising, so a larger percentage of them than any other generation were raised one parent, usually mom. They likely attended public schools where almost 90% of their elementary school teachers were women, and then moved on to secondary schools where about two out of three of their teachers were female. Contrary to notions of gender equality, the percentage of female teachers over the past 30 years has only risen. Thus, millennial males are more likely than any previous generation to have gone through their entire formative years without regular access to an adult male role model who worked. Couple that with the feminization of education and, in fact, most of life these days, and it’s unsurprising that males are increasingly falling behind their female counterparts educationally.
But males have also been willing to be their own worst enemies, by continually adopting bad habits in youth that make them far less desirable employees later on in life. Boys are more likely than girls to burn away hours playing video games, a habit that continues as they get older. Add to that other distractions such as social media and Internet porn, and a sad picture emerges of males growing up in the digital age without social skills or a work ethic.
Maybe it’s too late to do anything about all of this and we’ll be faced with a generation of men who are less likely to find stable and gainful employment, less likely to marry and start families, and more likely to depend upon government programs. But this should be a sobering reflection to us on how the loosening of cultural mores has unintended effects. Next time a feminist complains that there aren’t enough young women interested in STEM fields, I think it is fair for us to ask why the field of education appears to be so hostile to young men.