Call them shallow if you will, but when scouting for men women generally prefer those with jobs. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, fully 78 percent of never-married women say that finding someone with a steady job would be ‘very important’ to then in choosing a spouse or partner. Call me shallow too, but honestly that does not seem like setting the bar too high. But maybe it is: turns out that the supply of men-with-jobs has now dwindled to a point where the wanna-be-marrieds may have to compromise a bit on that requirement.
The pool of employed men available to women has dwindled sharply over time. According to Pew, as of 1960 for every 100 un-married women aged 25 to 34, there were 180 unmarried men of the same age in the United States, with 139 of them being employed. Given that women typically marry (and certainly at that time typically married) men a little older than them, the younger men were always at a bit of a disadvantage when finding eligible women their own age. That’s not the case anymore. True, as of 2012, for every 100 never-married women aged 25 to 34 there were 126 never-married men in the same age bracket. Finding men with jobs, however, is no longer an easy feat. For every 100 single women in this age bracket, there were only 91 employed men.
I have written before about the disappearance of men-with-jobs in the United States. Sometimes it is because they are in law school or grad school or some kind of training that is going to make them men-with-higher-paying jobs. Depressingly, often it is because they are unemployed or in jail. Whatever the reason, it means that women in that age group who want to marry will find it harder to do so without revising their standards a bit. Certainly when it comes to educational status young women are less likely to find their equal. According to Pew, among women 25 to 29, 37 percent had at least a bachelor’s degree compared to 30 percent of men in the same age bracket.
So what conclusions can we draw from the decline in the pool of ‘eligible’ men? If there is anyone to ‘blame’ for anything, I’d say the problem is with the larger economy, and as well with an educational system that for some reason is not retaining men through college. Until those (fairly large) issues get sorted out, the imbalance between marriageable men and women is only going to get wider, not narrower.