By some measures, people in their prime working years have a long way to go to recoup the losses of the 2007-09 recession — and white men are further behind than most. On average over the three months through March, a nonseasonally adjusted 86 percent of white men between the ages of 25 and 54 were employed, 2.3 percentage points (or about 1.1 million jobs) short of the average level in the 10 years before the recession. That’s a larger shortfall than any other group — including black men, whose employment-to-population ratio stood 2.1 percentage points, or 156,000 jobs, short of its pre-recession level (though their baseline was much higher). Here’s a breakdown:
Middle-aged white males’ progress toward economic recovery has been protracted enough to generate a good deal of frustration. Here’s how far the employment-to-population ratio has been from its pre-recession average since early 2008, in millions of jobs:
The malaise goes far beyond the political. Most of the prime-age jobless don’t show up in the unemployment numbers because they aren’t actively looking for work — and in many cases are already on disability. If they don’t get back into the labor force, their absence could permanently impair the economy’s capacity to grow.