A surprising portion of young non-college educated men in America are jobless.
In fact, according to Erik Hurst, a macroeconomist at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, employment rates among young men fell more than any other age-and-gender group of workers during the 2000s.
Says The Atlantic:
Since the turn of the century, the participation rate of 16-to-24-year-olds with just a high school degree has fallen 10 points to about 70 percent; for those without even a high school degree, it’s fallen 20 points, to 30 percent. Some of this drop is attributable to rising college attendance. But not all of it. Nine percent of Americans between 20 and 24 are neither in school, work, or training.
If unemployed 20-something men are not working, in school or in the midst of a career change, this begs the question: What are they doing and how do they have a roof over their heads?
Sadly, the answers to those questions aren’t much different than they would be if you asked them a decade earlier. The young men are playing video games and living with their folks (or other relatives), says Hurst.
The hours that they are not working have been replaced almost one for one with leisure time. Seventy-five percent of this new leisure time falls into one category: video games. The average low-skilled, unemployed man in this group plays video games an average of 12, and sometimes upwards of 30 hours per week.
Interestingly, the gamers seem to be pretty happy with their unemployed lives.
“Happiness surveys actually indicate that they quite content compared to their peers, making it hard to argue that some sort of constraint, like they are miserable because they can’t find a job, is causing them to play video games,” says Hurst.
Although these jobless young men are content now, that can be short-lived. Says the Atlantic:
Cheap and abundant entertainment anesthetizes less-skilled and less-educated young men in the present. But in the long run, it cuts them off from the same things that provide meaning in middle age, according to psychological and longitudinal studies — a career, a family, and a sense of accomplishment. The problem is that these 20-year-olds will eventually be 30-year-olds and 40-year-olds, and although young men who don’t go to college might appear happy now, those same satisfaction studies suggest that they will be much less happy in their 30s and 40s — less likely to get married, and more likely to be in poverty.
Check out “The 15 Best Jobs for Young Adults.”
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