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I was grabbing my daily morning jolt of java at the convenience store on my way to work this morning when a headline in the USA Today caught my eye. Tough Times for Older Male Workers the headline screamed.  Now I don’t usually read that newspaper, but I made a note to check out the story on line when I had time.  I have.  

My reaction below the fold

No shit, Sherlock!  This is  common, painful knowledge in my wide range of geezer acquaintances many of them either out of work, scraping by part time as fry-cook wages, "consulting" (translation: dead broke and willing to take on any crap you will send my way for peanuts) or live in terror that the ax is about to fall.

Gray haired white men—usually the safest workers in a recession—have been taking a special beating.  While their numbers still are well below, say young Black men, they have risen alarmingly while minority women and others have fared better than in previous down turns.

I know that sympathy for this "privileged" class may be limited—particularly by those have been buffeted hardship time and time again.  But these supposed lords of the universe deserve at least a moment’s sympathy.

Mainly because most of them never were "lords of the universe."  As the USA Today article succinctly points out,"The recession has hit older men hard because job loss has been concentrated in male-dominated fields, such as construction, manufacturing and finance. The decline of unions, which protected employees with seniority, has played a role, too. 'The bloodletting has been in parts of the economy where men work...'"

While the finance sector may include some former millionaire bankers and hedge-fund speculators, most of the displaced are middle-manager paper pusher sorts.

Men usually get little sympathy for their economic plight—we are expected to suck it up, pick ourselves up, get with it—but because these are disproportionately former "breadwinning" family men, plenty of women and children are under the hammer too.

In fact, long suffering wives may even have it worse.  Many are now primary breadwinners, although wages for women generally still lag behind men.  And many had left the work force or worked part time.  While they may find it easier to get work than their spouses, it is apt to be low paying and lack benefits.  On top of that they are stuck with their depressed husbands—most of whom are not conditioned to be "help meets"—at home.  Fair or not, many of them are probably still doing the cooking, cleaning and such for Mr. Helpless.

I have fared better than most.  I have a full time job.  But I am a theoretical "independent contractor" and get no health insurance or any other benefits.  I was recently able to quickly find a second job as a third shift gas station/convenience store clerk three nights a week at about a buck an hour over minimum wage, also with no benefits.  But together, working about 62 hour a week, I make significantly less than when I was involuntarily retired as a head custodian for a public elementary school four years ago.

But at least I am working, so I suppose I should shut up and stop whining.  It’s the manly thing to do.

But if you have a moment, shed a tear for my grizzled brothers, the aging Baby Boomers with too much time on their hands, too little hope, and a long wait to die.

Originally posted to Heretic, Rebel, a Thing to Flout. on Thu Jul 30, 2009 at 05:15 PM PDT.

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