(UNDATED) - While the national unemployment rate is lower than it has been in years, many men in their prime working age still aren't working.
Numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics compiled by the Wall Street Journal show that more than one in six men between the ages of 25 and 54 are out of work - a total of 10.4 million.
"Men have traditionally better employed than the rest of the population, so in a way they are coming back down to the rest of the country," said Matt Will, economist at the University of Indianapolis. "But we'd rather bring everyone up than drag a group down."
The trend has been growing since the early 1970's, when only six-percent of men in the prime working age group didn't have jobs. The number grew to 20-percent at the height of the recession in 2009, and Will says it's around 17-percent right now.
Still, more 25-to-54 year old men are working than are women in the same age group - about 70-percent of women have jobs compared to about one-third of women 60 years ago.
The Journal's analysis included both men who are considered unemployed - those drawing unemployment benefits, and those who have given up looking for work.
"They've become frustrated and they have dropped out of the labor force, so for the purposes of the official unemployment rate, they are not even counted," said Will.
Some of the unemployed could have, perhaps, taken jobs by now, but decided to wait because it wasn't full-time work or the pay was less than the government benefit they were receiving.
"Government benefits don't dissuade everyone from working, but they do cause some people to say "I'm getting some health care, I'm getting some cash, I'm getting some food, I can wait and work again later," Will said. "That's not a good thing, we should have an incentive to work, not an incentive not to.
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