Despite higher unemployment among men, Ada, Ohio local sees differently

American men have taken the top spot for the largest unemployed gender for several years. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

“There’s a concept called living light. It doesn’t matter how much you make at a job, you have to make enough to survive. How much you make and how much you need to survive are two entirely separate numbers.”

Spoken by Executive Director Rob Kanzig at the Restore Community Center in Ada, Ohio, these words reflect the employment situation of many in the nation.

The Employment Situation released in January 2018 (Source: BLS)

While there remains a struggle with cost of living in relation to job income, the US created 200,000 jobs at the start of January this year. Areas like construction, health care, manufacturing, and food services continued to increase in employment.

Despite the increase in several areas, the national unemployment rate stayed the same at 4.1 percent. The data in this article comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics database compiled on May 1, 2018.

The unemployment rate was consistent at 4.1 percent for the last six months. This rate is lower than previous years, but not every jobless citizen is included in the rate.

Those who are jobless, looking for a job, and available for work are considered in the unemployment rate. This number applies to those who did not have a job at the time of the survey done by BLS, but made “at least one specific active effort to find a job during the prior 4 weeks, and were available for work.”

Men have been the highest unemployed population for the past five years. Illustration/Dana Zechar (Source: piktochart.com)

Men are the prominent gender in unemployment rates. For the past five years, men have consistently been near 55 percent of those unemployed. According to a combined NBC News-Wall Street Journal Poll, “49 percent of employed women in the United States, including 42 percent of working women with children, say they work primarily because they are their family’s main breadwinner.”

Kanzig describes why he thinks men seem to be more unemployed than women.

“If you are unemployed or you are struggling financially, it is easier for a man, who doesn’t have the burden of child care, to support himself.”

He explains that women, especially single mothers, often don’t have a choice in remaining unemployed as they have child care expenses to think of, causing them to accept low-paying jobs.

One may expect men are becoming unemployed at a much higher rate than women. This is not the case. The rate of unemployment between men and women is very similar. By January of 2018, men were at an unemployment rate of 3.8 percent with women at 3.7 percent.

While men are nationally more unemployed than women, this does not seem to be the case in Ada, Ohio.

Kanzig mentions that those who seek help from the Restore Community Center are often female.

“I’ve noticed that I end up helping more single mothers than any other demographic. Like 35 to 40 percent.”

However, many who come to Kanzig already have jobs.

“Many of the people I help actually are employed. If you notice outside the University, one factor is, if you’re confined to Ada, the number of jobs where you can actually support yourself are slim.”

The unemployment rate in Ada has actually dropped in the past few months. The latest unemployment rate in Hardin county was 3.8 percent this March. This is lower than January at 5.0 percent, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

But for men who are unemployed, there are very few locations that offer shelter.

A few miles away in Lima, Ohio, men without a place to stay go to The Lima Rescue Mission.

Director of Men’s Ministry Nicholas Graham saw a fluctuation of men stay at the shelter over the past six years.

“On a day-to-day basis, we sometimes have 15 people staying for the night or 26 people the next night. Usually, men stay on average about a month and a half to two months.”

He continued on what is expected of the guests, saying, “On a month-to-month basis, we do require them to earn a certain amount of points in order to stay. They have to come to the bible studies to get points or if they’re working, they can get one point for every day they work. We try to encourage them to find employment.”

Graham found that with any service come those who are not fully satisfied.

“Most of the people are pretty grateful for having a place to stay, but there are some who have a mentality that everything should be handed to them.”

According to Graham, those people do not tend to stay long as they are not doing anything to “better themselves.”

So why are so many men unemployed in the US?

“A big reason why men, I suppose, come here is because some are getting out of prison, and some have issues with drugs and alcohol, which causes them to lose their jobs and not have a place to stay,” Graham said.

This statement adds to the connection between unemployment and opioid use that many are discussing now.

According to the Princeton University labor economist Alan Krueger, “nearly half of ‘prime age’ men who aren’t in the labor force take pain medication daily. And past studies have found that the unemployed are more likely to use illegal drugs than full-time workers.”

The study found that drug abuse reduces a person’s employment prospects, as many jobs test for drugs, but “those who are unemployed or otherwise out of the labor force may face financial hardship or simply have more unstructured time, either of which can result in a higher propensity to consume these substances.”

This link between opioid use and unemployment may be related to the high number of men unemployed in the US. As more free time seems to lead to higher potential use of illegal drugs, this may be the case for unemployed men in America.

One can only hope these rates decrease in the near future, allowing for a healthier, more well rounded economy.