Businessweek Archives

Male Unemployment Rates At Or Near Post-War Highs


Overall, this morning’s labor report was not fun reading. Overall, the unemployment rate rose to 8.9%, and the number of jobs dropped by 539K. Manufacturing jobs dropped by 149K, somewhat slower than the previous 2 months but still harsh.

But the real news is that in every age group, the male unemployment rate is at or near the post-war high. For example, the unemployment rate for men 55 years and older is 6.7%. That matches the post-war high of 6.7% set in 1949! Yowza!

Another example is the crucial 45-54-year-old age group (crucial because I am in it, natch). For males, the unemployment rate of 7.1% over the past two months exceeds the previous record of 7% set in 1983. No wonder things feel tough….for men, the labor market pain is now into uncharted territory.

By contrast, the unemployment rate for women in most age groups is well shy of post-war highs. For example, in the 25-34 year old age group, women have an unemployment rate of 7.9%, compared to a postwar record of 10.3%. In other words, for women this is a bad recession, but nowhere near the worst.

The difference in the pain being absorbed by men and women is astonishing, and may have long-term social and political implications.


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