Over the last four decades, the number of men in the workforce has been declining. One in nine men ages 25 to 54 leave the workforce during their prime working age. Moreover, this rate has increased since the 1950s when one out of every 50 men exited the labor force. There does not seem to be a sweeping conclusion as to why, but the economic repercussions may be severe.
Where are they going?
Many draw the connection between how much someone makes and their social status. As most of those leaving the workforce are white men without a college degree, they are not the higher earners among people in their age brackets when wages decline. Instead, there is a direct correlation between labor participation and wage inequalities. Many people link their social status to their job. And when they feel they are not paid enough compared to their peers, they are more likely to leave their job.
How has college played a role?
Another theory is that many millennials are boomeranging back home to their parents because of economic hardship. After shouldering massive amounts of student debt, many millennials have difficulty getting their footing in the workforce. And with a pandemic and now a looming recession, it isn’t getting easier. Many positions they take at a new company lead to underpayment, layoffs, or quiet quitting. So rather than cashing in on the dream of a college degree and finding their perfect role out of school, they are forced live in the doldrums of nine-to-five jobs to pay their debt. This is forcing people in and out of many positions in the workforce and explains why you see millennials job-hop more than any other generation. The true explanation is unclear, but the connection between labor participation and wage inequality is undeniable.