Michael Hout

Michael Hout is professor of sociology at New York University. Since 2012, he has written annual updates on labor force participation for the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality’s “State of the Union” series.

Recent Articles

Why Are Men Dropping Out of Work?

A new book highlights the decline of male employment.

Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP
Men Without Work: America's Invisible Crisis By Nicholas Eberstadt Templeton Press This article appears in the Spring 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . America’s working man has taken a pounding over the course of the past half-century. According to the most recent data available, 15 percent of men in their prime working years (between 25 and 54) had no job—5 percent were unemployed and 10 percent were neither working nor looking for work. Fifty years earlier, in the summer of 1966, only 5 percent of men in that age range had no job. Most of the decline in male employment took place relatively recently, during the Great Recession, when men’s prime-age employment fell 8 percentage points, from 88 percent in the spring of 2007 to 80 percent in December 2009. Since the bottom of the recession, prime-age men have regained 5 percentage points, reaching 85 percent employed in the most recent data. Nicholas Eberstadt, a demographer at the...

Rationing College Opportunity

Many more young people could succeed at college if given the chance. But public policy has been raising hurdles rather than increasing access.

Americans put great stock in the promise of a college education. Most adults see a degree as important for personal success, and they are right. Social and economic data confirm that individuals benefit from college. Communities gain, too. College graduates are more likely to stay employed, buy houses, marry, pay taxes, avoid welfare, commit fewer crimes, volunteer for socially useful causes, vote, be happier and healthier, and live longer. Thus it comes as quite a surprise to learn that the current college attainment rate is about what it was in the 1970s. Today, 32 percent of young people earn a college degree, compared to 31 percent back in the early 1970s. As the chart shows, between 1965 and 1974, college attainment increased from 23 percent to 31 percent, continuing an upward trend that started in the 1920s. Between the high point in 1974 and the low point in 1984, college attainment slumped back to 27 percent before rebounding to 32 percent by 1994. Since then, higher education...