Participation Ribbon

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When the jobs report came out, I was intrigued by the fact that, in spite of the many millions of jobs added in recent months, the labor force participation rate was still fairly dead. This is a fascinating chart to me, since it goes back to the end of World War II and has a really impressive topping pattern. The level of participation peaked in the late 1990s and has been grinding down ever since.

Something dawned on me, however: if we’re all such lazy bums that we just keep leaving the workforce, why is it that we’re simply approaching the levels of the late 1960s? Well DUH, Tim, it’s because men and women have had utterly different participation levels in the post-war period. In the mid-1940s, maybe one-fifth of women worked, whereas in the late 1990s, about twice that many did. So that explains why there was such an ascendency from the 60s through the 90s. Here is the participation just for women:

So the next thing I just had to see what the male participation rate, and oh my LORD, what has happened to our country? Just look at this thing: after the war, nearly 90% of men worked (because what else were they going to do?); this has been eroding without interruption and is approaching a mere two-thirds of men.

As a work-loving male, I am confounded. A third of working-age men are just sitting around with their thumbs up their asses? What are they doing? Collecting fraudulent disability checks?

Where’s the dignity? Where’s the self-respect? I can’t get ENOUGH of work, and these guys just lay around all day watching insipid television?

It’s ridiculous. I suppose people are more innately lazy than I ever dared dream. I need to stop projecting my own work ethic on everyone else, because it’s obviously delusional. Thus, now, on Good Friday, I shall return to my work.