The decline in labor force participation rates has been widely documented, but the growing gulf in the work gap between the bottom third and the rest of the population is truly striking:While the share of men who are employed in the top two-thirds has been quite stable since 1980, lower-income men’s work rates have declined by 11 percentage points.
What about women?
Middle- and upper-income women have increased their work rates by 13 percentage points. This has helped maintain or even increase their family’s income. But employment rates among lower-income women have been flat, despite reforms of the welfare system and safety net designed to encourage work.