BUSINESS + ECONOMY

Men without college degrees leaving the workforce, according to new study

Dec 9, 2022, 9:00 AM
a businessman is pictured looking at something, men in the workforce...
A study by the Boston Fed found that income inequality drives men without college degrees to leave the workforce. (Adobe Stock)
(Adobe Stock)

SALT LAKE CITY — Men without college degrees are leaving the workforce and have been for the last forty years according to a new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

The study looked at data between 1980 and 2019 and focused on men between 25 and 54 years old.

Regional Economist for the Department of Workforce Services Ben Crabb said the findings revolved more around income inequality than anything else.

Crabb said a large finding was that the higher the income inequality, the greater the effect.

“Even if their earnings were going up, if their share of all earnings among prime-age workers was going down, then they would leave the labor force at a greater rate.”

According to the study, the growing gap in pay between men without college degrees and their more-educated peers drives almost half of the loss.

But, Crabb said he doesn’t expect this to be as much of an issue in Utah.

“Finding that increase in inequality helped push these noncollege educated men out of the workforce, I think that effect will be a bit blunted in Utah because Utah tends to have less income inequality than other states.”

The study claims social status is likely a driving factor because pay often indicates social status. It also found that raises didn’t matter as much if they didn’t start to close the gap.

Researchers believe this combination of social and economic factors causes work dissatisfaction and is driving the exodus. 

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