Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Don’t be a young male.

Nina Easton, at Fortune, reports that men are suffering. A recent MIT study found the sharp rise in single-parent households hurts boys more than girls. Others blame more readily available government assistance, making aid checks more appealing than paychecks, as well as the decline of well-paying manufacturing jobs, combined with fast-paced technological change.  Men have “endured a three-decade drop in earnings,” while women outstrip men in the 21st century global economy’s most important area -- education.

 Easton asked her readers “Why?”, and got back six top answers:  

  • Flight of fathers. "My father was a small-time white-collar criminal that fled the country prior to a court date when I was just a few months old," Adam C. Dudly wrote. "Even now, in my 30s, I struggle with laziness, sense of identity issues, figuring out who I am or what I want to be, and what kind of man I'm supposed to be ...” Jason DeSena Trennart added, “such family arrangements in the real world often doom children to lead lives of emotional and material privation."  
  • A rise in autism and ADHD. Michelle Linn wrote, "neurological disorders affect boys more frequently than girls, for autism, the rate is fivefold [confirmed here]. Could it be these illnesses and diseases of the central nervous system are actually affecting our economy?”  
  • Video games. "As the mother of two boys ages 14 and 15," wrote Chris Olofson, "my biggest fear is that it's the video gaming. . . is causing the lack of motivation and initiative to work and thus get a firm hold on the economic ladder.''  
  • A K-12 education system biased toward girls. As Rob Ritzenthaler bluntly put it: "Who was the nut that thought that boys should sit at a desk for 6-8 hours a day while they were growing up?" Some readers also criticized the emphasis on obtaining college degrees. Corey Planter, who graduated with a paper-engineering degree, noted that men mostly fill factory jobs as millwrights, pipe fitters, welders, and ironworkers -- paying up to $28 an hour. "You may be thinking that these jobs are rapidly disappearing, however they are not," he said, pointing to a machinist shop that was on a nationwide search for enough machinists to keep up with his orders.  
  • The financial gains of women. Gustavo A. Duran made clear he supports the recent economic gains of women . . . but he found more and more men taking a backseat. "I am now seeing many women in their 40s being the main breadwinners while their husbands diddle [around] daily in odds and ends," Duran wrote. "I think this trend will just get larger. . .”  
  • Affirmative action. T.J. Wilsson wrote, “so many major employers [oblige] 'guidelines' pressuring them to, effectively, discriminate against males ... For example, I read that a major employer in one state had guidelines that some 80% of its newly hired veterinarians be female." Ron Goddard complained that "every step of the way my sons and I were put on notice by corporate America that we were their second choice." 
It’s tough being a male, tougher still a young male. Sarah Ayres, significantly from the liberal Center for American Progress, is as concerned about what’s happening to young people as Easton is about men. In the current economy, Aryes observes, young Americans have suffered the most. While others have slowly returned to work, the unemployment rate for Americans ages 16–24 stands at 16.2%, more than double the national rate.

And even when youth eventually find work, the impact of their unemployment follows them for years. Workers unemployed as young adults earn lower wages in later years due to forgone work experience and missed skill development opportunities. The Center estimates that the nearly 1 million young Americans who experienced long-term unemployment during the recession will lose more than $20 billion over the next 10 years--about $22,000 per person. These Millennials will have to delay moving out of parents’ homes, will struggle to pay off ballooning student-loan debt, and will fail to save for retirement.

Americans under 40 have accumulated less wealth than their parents did at the same age more than 25 years ago. More than 13% of borrowers—mainly young adults—have defaulted on their student loans, and another 26% are delinquent.

Unemployment is a major problem for young Americans in general, but an even bigger problem for young people of color.  While the overall unemployment rate for teenagers is 25.1%, the unemployment rate for black teens is 43.1%, with half of black males ages 16–19 looking for work unable to find a job.

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