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Rising “Voluntary” Unemployment Among Men

Posted in H.L. News, Main Blog (All Posts) on August 5th, 2006 9:42 am by HL

Rising “Voluntary” Unemployment Among Men

Mother Jones

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an interesting story about how men between the ages of 30 and 54 are voluntarily dropping out of work, unable to find a job that interests them, and preferring instead to live at home, doing things that they find more fulfilling. The numbers are hardly insignificant: about 10 percent of men in this age group—roughly 3 million workers—are out of work and not looking for jobs.

The article mostly delves into the causes of this trend—in particular, there’s the decline of stable, unionized jobs, especially in manufacturing and technology, and the unwillingness of those who are laid off to seek work that’s beneath them, preferring instead to pursue other interests. In that case, the fault resides with an economy that’s chiefly creating low-paying, unfulfilling, and overly stressful jobs.

H.L.s Take
I posted a comment to this story, not yet published because it was my first time, and they have to check the comment (whenever conveinient for them meaning never) for spam.
Here is what I wrote:

I am the poster child for this story. I am 44 years old and have not had a steady full time job in 2 1/2 years. Not because I don’t want to work, but because there is no longer the fulltime decent paying, job with medical benefits available anymore. I work in the film and television industry in Hollywood. For 15 years I held steady decent paying jobs. I got laid off a few times when companies were merging, but was always able to find another job relatively soon. After my last job I was laid off at In January 2004, (Once again the company was being bought out, and I was let go after 2 years of service, the same day another guy was let go after 8 years.) I once again began looking for another job. I soon began to see that the offers I was getting were for jobs that paid up to 9 dollars an hour less then I was making before. I wasn’t about to take a job that paid more then one third less then I was previoulsy making. The only decent job offer I got was for a freelance part time job with no health plan, no vacations, no benefits at all. The pay was still OK so I took the job. I am still working for them. I get 5 to 15 hours a week, most weeks, sometimes a little more depending on the time of year. I continued to look for jobs, and continued to get offers paying what I was making 10 years ago. I continued to refuse. In the meantime I had starting blogging, and after almost 2 years began to make a little money doing that. Now I spend 8-10 hours most days working on my websites, and I do my 5-10 hours a week part time job. I barely make enough to pay the bills month after month, and have learned to live on almost nothing. This was never what I wanted. I am just doing what I can to survive the Bush Economy. By the way my liberal website is called
The Hollywood Liberal

We have lots of funny Bush Comics. Come on over and check them out.

H.L.s Comics

5 Responses to “Rising “Voluntary” Unemployment Among Men”

  1. melissa Says:


    Just wanted to let you know I linked to your blog in my column on today. Thanks!

    If you want to take a look, here’s the link:



  2. D. B. Says:

    Being part Native American in heritage, (a very small part 😉 , I remember my Great Grandpa saying, “In the olden days, the women gathered the food, made the clothes, raised the kids, and kept the fires going while the men were out hunting and fishing. Then the whiteman came along and thought he could improve on that.”

    Oh how I long for the good ole days of the 18th century.

  3. DavidM Says:

    I live in Vancouver, Canada, and since the spring of ’04, have been firing out literally hundreds of applications with barely a response. I’m in my early 50’s and have worked more than 30 years to build a diverse skill-set only to find that nobody seems to want my services anymore, so the NY Times article and your response REALLY strikes a chord.

    Like you, I’m doing the best I can, but I’m really surprised by the level of outright hostility I encounter when I dare to suggest that perhaps excluding male mid-career workers is a deliberate strategy. One well-placed HR type, in a seeming burst of candor, or perhaps guilt, once confessed to me that the hiring was, and these were her direct words, “clique based and youth oriented”, and that my resume would be ignored because it was “intimidating”!

    It may be slothfulness that is causing some men to opt out, but in my case this long layoff has absolutely nothing to do with a lack of ambition on my part or an unwillingness to take work that I feel is beneath me. The opportunities simply aren’t there. It’s as if a switch was flipped and I suddenly became invisible.

    I’m grateful to learn that it isn’t just me suddenly struggling for my own existence. Looks like it’s happening to a lot of us.

  4. Robert Rouse Says:

    Go Dude, Go!

    I am a 51 year old man who voluntarily left the workforce just prior to the birth of my son in 2002. Not only was I able to raise both of our children and bond with them like most fathers are unable to do, I was also given the the time and opportunity to cleanse my intellectual palate by blogging on a regular basis. I would love to go back to work, but unless I can find a position with great insurance and benefits, I cannot afford to earn more money.

    If I add to my wife’s earnings (as a teacher), it would put us into a higher brackett and our children would lose heir state medical benefits. Anyone who has raised children know that visits to the pediatrician, hospital and dentist should know that the extra amount I might make would not be enough to provide adequate medical care for our kids.

    Since that man who currently resides in the White House took office, this country has gone to hell in a tankerfull of handbags.

    My wife supports my decision. When she gets home from work, the house is clean, the kids have been fed and she can sit back in relax. Yes, some of the gender roles have changed in our household, but our kids know where Daddy is – except on those weeks where Daddy goes to Crawford, TX or Washington DC to protest Dubya and his illegal and immoral war (except next month when the wife and kids will go with me to Washington).

    Fight the power!

  5. HL Says:

    Dave and Robert, thanks for writing in. I understand where you guys are coming from totally. I know a lot of other people do to. Here is the response I left to the writer of the story on CBS News.

    Melissa, thanks for using my response to The New York Times Story in your article. Corporatization is to blame for much of the problem with people not able to find decent jobs anymore. Also the Bush Economy which the mainstream media constantly tries to prop up is not nearly as good as the media reports it to be. People are working for less money, with less or no health care, higher energy prices, higher rents, meanwhile corporate profits are at all time highs. I believe this situation will only get worse, being that both Democrats, and Republicans are beholden to their corporate masters, and are only concerned with their corporate donors, and don’t give a damn about their constituents. Joe Lieberman comes to mind. He lost his primary election yesterday mainly because of his pro war stance, and his subservience to Bush, but he refused to budge when the people spoke. He was bought and paid for by corporate interests. Thanks again for the mention.