Men Declining?

Provocative and important cover story in the current issue of the the Atlantic. It’s entitled The End of Men? Clearly exaggerated, but the main point of the article that men are having a harder time than women making the transition to a far more knowledge-based economy is probably true. The article claims the trend is global, not just here in the US.

The basic story is well know. An economy driven by technology and globalization no longer needs much muscle from humans, but now more highly values brains. Both left and right brain skills. So men who have relied on their muscle to earn a good living are having a hard time. The result: more woman working today in the US than men for the first time ever, 3/4 of the laid off workers in the Great Recession have been men and the jobs that are least likely to come back in the next recovery – production and construction – are male dominated occupations.

What is deeply troubling in the article is the evidence that men are more resistant to gaining the skills needed to succeed in the economy of the future. For whatever reason women are disproportionately higher ed students at all levels. From community colleges through advanced degree programs. And they are finishing degrees at a higher rate than men as well. This is not good news. Societies where men don’t work or don’t earn enough to support a family are societies with all sorts of social problems far beyond economic.

Our view of the economy is that career success in the future will look a lot more like rock climbing that ladder climbing. Career ladders that use to be the path to the middle class are increasingly gone. Technology and globalization mean that predictable and linear career progress for most of us is toast. What will take its place is the need to continuously adjust (rock climbing). All of us are going to have to be willing and able to learn new skills and new occupations over a lifetime. The article claims that men – except those from upper middle class households – are having great difficulty making these transitions. If true, this is a challenge that we need to make a priority.

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Lou Glazer

Lou Glazer is President and co-founder of Michigan Future, Inc., a non-partisan, non-profit organization. Michigan Future’s mission is to be a source of new ideas on how Michigan can succeed as a world class community in a knowledge-driven economy. Its work is funded by Michigan foundations.

This Post Has 4 Comments


    too bad so sad

    have been a knowledge based “guy” all of my life but it did not matter when i hit 45 years of age and making “too much money” and being white and being the wrong gender.


    have been “gone” for five ( 5 ) years now – no one would or will hire a late 40’s white guy.

    so save us the sermons and bullsh*t.

    i am happy not to be paying for Iraq and Afghanistan and all of the other War Crimes that the usa is involved in. have not paid any tax other than sales tax for over five ( 5 ) years now.

    here is something else that i have discovered here in michigan – if you are ‘unemployed’ the womens do not want to have anything whatsover to do with you but the womens will BITCH UP A STORM that they cannot find any men !!! HAHAHAHAHAHA

    one woman that i spoke with was a Human Resource Director and after i had informed her that i was unemployed she remarked that ‘all of the men she talked with were also unemployed’ and i asked her if she had hired any males – single or married – and she said ‘don’t be silly. we hire as many single mothers and married mothers as we are able – they are more easily controlled’.

    so, there ya go.

    which group has the highest suicide rate in the usa ?

    45 – 54 white males

    35 – 44 white males

    geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee what a big stinkin’ surprise.

    i will be joing them shortly.

    save me the sermons and go cheney yourselves.

  2. additional comment

    bachelor’s, one master’s, one half of second master’s interrupted by Gulf War I never went back to complete ( sitting in a classroom after seeing humans blowed all to hell was not what i wanted to do at that point ). us army combat infantry airborne war veteran. protected and defended my fellow americans freedoms and democracies. excellent health. no dependents. no moneyh draining health care concerns ( appendix already removed ). not a job hopper ( loyal to a fault ). no criminal record. no ugly tattoos or body piercings. no alcohol or legal / illegal drug dependencies. summa cum laude both bachelor’s and master’s. laid off from last employer after 15 years – did not take any vacation for first 10 until they no longer paid for unused vacation time.

    exactly what else is it that i am supposed to do / accomplish ???

    anybody ?? bueller ??

    i have no interest in any further education ( i read like a fiend ) – training is what humans do with their animals.

    this country is on a downward spiral that i have not seen before but started in 1980 with the ronnie raygun revolution. it has been a 30 year downward slide for this country and i for one will rejoice when the final implosion occurs for then i will be able to say loud and quite clearly “told y’all so”.

    yes, men are in decline. i am a victim of it and i know many many other men in the same if not worse predictament.

    i wonder what that 1% of the rich and well to do that own and run everything think is going to happen when they have everything and the 99% of the rest of us are homeless and starving and have nothing left to lose.

    two signs outside of a house in the Detroit area in which the owner ( a man ) hung himself:

    the first sign from top to bottom


    the second sign:

    No Hope

    i really understand those two signs.

    meanwhile, i wait for my bailout. if i changed my name to goldman sacks would that help ???? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  3. After Training, Still Scrambling for Employment

    Hundreds of thousands of Americans have enrolled in federally financed training programs in recent years, only to remain out of work. That has intensified skepticism about training as a cure for unemployment.

    Even before the recession created the bleakest job market in more than a quarter-century, job training was already producing disappointing results. A study conducted for the Labor Department tracking the experience of 160,000 laid-off workers in 12 states from mid-2003 to mid-2005 — a time of economic expansion — found that those who went through training wound up earning little more than those who did not, even three and four years later. “Over all, it appears possible that ultimate gains from participation are small or nonexistent,” the study concluded.

    In the last 18 months, the Obama administration has embraced more promising approaches to training focused on faster-growing areas like renewable energy and health care. But most money has been directed at the same sorts of programs that in past years have largely failed to steer laid-off workers toward new careers, say experts, and now the number of job openings is vastly outnumbered by people out of work.

    “It’s such an ugly situation that job training can’t solve it,” said Ross Eisenbrey, a job training expert at the Economic Policy Institute, a labor-oriented research institution in Washington, and a former commissioner of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. “When you have five people unemployed for every vacancy, you can train all the people you want and unfortunately only one-fifth of the people will get hired. Training doesn’t create jobs.”

    1. Agreed. See my July 26 post on job training. Training is not a solution to not enough jobs. At best it builds skills so that people can get the jobs that are likely to be available in the future. And adult training does not have a great track record of building the skills in far too many who enroll. So policy makers need to pay attention not just to funding adult training, but also to getting better outcomes.

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