A myriad of causes are keeping more than seven million prime-age men out of work, raising wonder among economists and policy analysts about how to get them back into the workforce.
This is a question that McCourt Professor Harry Holzer and colleagues Robert Doar, a Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and Brent Orrell, Vice President at ICF International, sought to answer in their new report “Getting men back to work: Solutions from the right and left,” published by American Enterprise Institute.
According to the report, “the costs now borne by nonworking men, their families and communities, and the US economy are much too large to be ignored any longer.”
Understanding that previous research has focused, without clear consensus, on identifying the reasons why male labor force participation has dipped nearly ten percent in the last 50 years, the authors first delineated what they believed to be some of the major causes and then described in actionable policy solutions to counter the negative employment trend.
Among their solutions, they propose improving worker skills through education and training, subsidizing employment to make jobs more available, leveraging earned income tax credits and wage insurance to make jobs more attractive, reforming public income support programs, and reducing barriers and disincentives to work for particular populations.
The authors acknowledged that today’s political climate makes achieving policy consensus a challenge, but called on policymakers to rise above the fray.
“Those on the political left and right will not necessarily agree on the exact causes of growing non-employment among American men or the exact solutions,” the authors wrote. “Compromise will be necessary…it is critically important for the nation to address these problems and forge bipartisan approaches to do so.”
Professor Holzer, a leading expert on the challenges facing low-income workers, is frequently cited in national media. In addition to his role at McCourt, where last year he was named the John LaFarge Jr. S.J. Chair of Public Policy, he works as a Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution.