Sunday, February 12, 2012

Falling male income

How are American men faring in the workforce? Not well at all. Real wages have stagnated for some decades and fewer men are in paid employment. And that has created some truly extraordinary statistics.

The median level of income for men has declined dramatically over the past four decades (the median being the wages of the man who is exactly in the middle of the income distribution). The following statistics measure the median income level of all men, whether they are in employment or not:

the median man whose highest educational attainment was a high school diploma had his earnings fall by 47 percent in the last four decades.

Workers who didn’t even graduate from high school had a median income decline of 66 percent, largely because so many of these high school dropouts subsequently dropped out of the labor force, too, once they saw what job opportunities awaited them.

Even those men with college degrees are not generating the same levels of income. The median income for such men has fallen by 12% since 1969.

These are amazing statistics. True, the situation for men who are in full-time employment is not as bad - most men have had their wages stagnate over the past four decades, and men with university degrees have seen small improvements.

But all those men who successfully get to the end of high school are now generating only half the income that a similar group of men did in 1969. Half! No wonder family outcomes are falling away amongst that group of men.

Note too that GDP per capita has more than doubled in the US over the past 40 years. So there has been a doubling of output per capita, but the median income for men with high school degrees has halved.

And what if we exclude all those men who aren't participating in the workforce? The figures are still bad. The median wage for full-time male workers with a high school diploma has fallen 28% and without a diploma 36%.

Here's a chart showing what's happened to median earnings regardless of educational outcomes:

You can see that median earnings rose for full-time male workers until 1973, but have fallen since then. The median earnings for all men also hit a peak in 1973 but plummeted after 1978.


  1. Liberals are fleecing us, huge transfer of $ to elite Business
    "15 Mind-Blowing Facts About Wealth And Inequality In America"

    by doing this:
    Patrick F. Fagan Family Research Council. (8pages dot point large type

  2. Martin S,

    That's a really interesting link. Thanks.

  3. When I was a kid my family lived on a single income. My dad owned a car and was paying off a mortgage.

    Around thirty years later I was earning twenty times as much as him in dollar terms and yet I was not able to put up enough money to get a mortgage going and even now if the rules of the banks were to be the same as what they were back then on mortgages we would need to be earning in each family $180,000 per annum based on current house prices of around $400,000.

    I've had the chance to listen to young kids these days talk about renting compared to buying and one kid spoke of how there was a $200 difference each week between renting and buying in favor of renting. His reaction. "I'd rather have the extra $200 to go out and spend on a good time."