For Young Men, Biden’s Economy Has Only Added to the Misery
As the U.S. economy under the Biden administration continues to underperform, White House officials continue to trumpet its praises, claiming that the economy is “moving on the right track.” But amid ballooning homeownership costs, nagging inflation, swelling federal debt, soaring credit card debt and delinquency, and a decline in full-time jobs, young men in particular are struggling to find their footing.
On Sunday, Jared Bernstein, President Biden’s economic advisor, argued that an increase in Black Friday spending, a decreased inflation rate from its 9% peak in June 2022, and low unemployment means that the economy is on the “right track.” But observers have pointed out that there are more to these numbers than meets the eye. Increased spending has been more than matched by increased credit card debt and delinquency, the current level of inflation is still triple what it was at the same point during Trump’s first term, and the low unemployment rate is mostly due to workers taking on multiple part-time jobs to make ends meet.
For young men specifically, Joe Biden’s economy has merely been a three-year extension to 20 years of disillusionment. As noted by sociologist Brad Wilcox, full-time employment for men aged 25-35 has plummeted to a shocking degree over the last two decades, falling from around 84% in 2000 to 68% today. Interestingly, Wilcox narrowed in on a specific point in time when job prospects for young men began to implode in America. In October of 2000, President Bill Clinton signed a bill formally granting China permanent normal trade relations status. As a direct result of this agreement, an MIT report found that the U.S. lost over two million mostly manufacturing jobs — jobs that were mostly filled by young men.
Further reports have estimated that U.S. manufacturing job losses are even higher. An Economic Policy Institute report from 2020 found that America’s trade deficit with China since 2001 has led to the loss of over 2.7 million manufacturing jobs (3.7 million jobs overall).
Wilcox went on to observe that the pursuits of Big Business have also had a direct impact on the fortunes of young men, specifically the technology that relies on addiction. “Many of the nation’s biggest businesses — from Alphabet (YouTube) to TikTok to Microsoft (Xbox) to Philip Morris (vapes) — are selling products that serve teenage boys and young men one dopamine hit after another,” he writes.
This has led to a tragic nosedive in the productivity of young men. A Princeton study found that “screentime can account for nearly half of the drop in working hours for men in their twenties from 2004 to 2017.” Over that same time span, “recreational computer time rose by 60 percent among men.”
In addition, Wilcox highlighted the connection between the phenomenon of young men spurning higher education with their reluctance to marry. He observed that we are “headed for a world where about 60 percent of college attendees are female and only 40 percent are male. This matters not only because many men will have more trouble getting launched in the working world relative to their female peers, but also because women prefer to marry men who have roughly the same educational credentials as they do.”
Mike Feuz, an economist who works as a consultant for business, confirmed the pattern of young men without full-time employment as well as its connection with the declining marriage rates.
“Younger workers are more and more likely to participate in the gig economy such as Uber drivers or earning in the home on platforms like YouTube as content creators,” he told The Washington Stand. “More concerning trends that likely contribute to declining full-time employment are declining marriage rates. Married men have significantly higher lifetime earnings driven by the incentive of providing for a family. As marriage rates decline and young men are disillusioned at the prospects of marriage, we should only expect these trends to persist.”
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.