Only 70% of men are in the workforce (or seeking a job) as of 2017, and that is down from 87% in 1948 and it is also down from the high 70 to low 80% range from before the great recession. While fewer males are working, an even higher percentage then ever are now enrolled into some form of government assistance or welfare type program. The percent of prime age males in the labor force has also been decreasing for decades.
Not only are more men of public assistance, but an increasing number of those on benefits are able bodied adults (meaning physically fit to work) and do not have children either. In other words, there is really no excuse for a male to be sitting at home on the couch, collecting assistance, and not holding a job. This is especially true with the booming job market that is currently in place in early 2018. The number of able bodied, prime aged men who are not working is down ~10% from its peak of decades ago, while more and more women have entered the workforce.
Focus is on low income men
Since the Republicans took control of the House, Senate, and Presidency there have been continued rumblings over them tackling the cost of federal government entitlement programs. As the country spends more than we can afford on social security, Medicaid, and other benefits, Republicans want to make changes. The latest discussion among conservatives is to get low income men back into being productive members of society. So that means work, volunteer, or training for a job.
Now males are not being “singled out” per say. Instead, since women (and especially single mothers) are more involved in raising kids, they can often be exempt from some of the workforce requirements that are being put into place. As they can’t very well take care of their kid while also working 40 hours per week at some local company. So this means males are feeling the impact of these changes by default.
Over the last decade there have been more and more low income males in the federal government benefit system. Over 3 million more men are now on Medicaid than in 2013, and that is a huge number when once gain considering how strong the economy is. Why aren’t those men holding down a job that pays more than poverty wages?
Out of all the males in Medicaid, only 65% of them work according to 2018 data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. So that percentage of working males is even less than the national average. What should happen is the opposite should be true; a male living in poverty should be working or training to earn a wage so they can increase their income and get off Medicaid.
SNAP food stamps are just as bad, if not worse. There are 65% more men receiving food stamps then in 2008, and the total in January 2018 is close to 19 million males according to the United States Department of Agriculture. A large percentage of the increase is that SNAP food stamps now allows people without dependent children to get assistance (which is mostly males), so that is what accounts for a large percentage of the spike.
States are pushing back
The federal government is encouraging, and now approving, work, volunteering, or job training requirements for anyone on entitlements. This change requires the participation of states, and now many Conservative/Republican states are putting new policies into place.
States such as Louisiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, Kansas, and others are saying if you are able bodied and are not the primary care giver for kids, and you want to get government assistance, you need to contribute to society. You need to work. Or be in job training / looking for a job. If either of those are not possible for some reason, then volunteer. Since women are often the primary care givers for a family, these new rules are hitting men the hardest. They now need to get off the couch and contribute to the country.