(CBS NEWS) – A large number of American men of prime working age — between 25 and 54 years old — are not working or even looking for work, resulting in a major hole in the American economy.
In 1953, 98% of men in that age range had a job or were looking for one. That number has fallen ever since. Today, 7.2 million men have essentially dropped out of the workforce. It's "a matter of our national identity," said Mike Rowe, the host of "Dirty Jobs" on Discovery. "I think it's a giant issue. ... And by the time we realize how big an issue it is, we're going to have a hard time turning the temperature down."
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It's not an issue rooted in the unemployment rate, which at 3.5% is the lowest it's been in 50 years. So, what's behind the phenomenon?