Is The US Locking Up Its Available Male Labor Force?

A few years ago we noted an extremely disturbing trend, namely that there was never a lower percentage of white men over 20 working in America. The decline in labor force participation rate for males ages 25-54 has accelerated sharply since 1980, and we may have an answer as to why.

Here is the labor force participation rate for men ages 25-54. Although the downward trend is clear since it topped out out 97.9% in 1954, a notable accelerated decline takes place since 1980, which as of May 1, 2016 put the rate at 88.4%.

As the WSJ points out, there is a sharp divergence in participation rates by educational attainment.

Which one could argue is evidence of the declining middle class in America, as blue-collar jobs are disappearing.

There is one more critical chart that the WSJ provides that is notable however, and is something to consider. As the decline in labor force participation for working age males has accelerated its decline since 1980, male prisoners who have been incarcerated has accelerated in the complete opposite direction.

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Is the male labor force collapsing because more and more are being sent to prison? The data certainly shows that is a possibility.

Here is a look at how the US imprisonment rate has grown since 1880 - look at the pop since 1980.

And just because it has been an insane weekend, we'll add to it by reminding readers that despite all of the above, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) is actively advocating that the US has an "under-incarceration problem." Perhaps Cotton wishes to lock up the entire male labor force instead of just most of it.