Another byproduct of the recession: More househusbands

Welcome to the Problem That Has No Job: a kind of upside-down Mad Men meets Mr. Mom where wives and girlfriends are out all day making money while the city’s unemployed guys mop floors, cook dinner and experience all the attendant ennui. In The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan’s germinal study of the restless American housewife, the author singled out 1960 as the year when women began to realize in droves that something was wrong with their domestic lives; she called it “the year American women’s discontent boiled over.” A half-century later, three years into the most recent recession, the tables seem to have turned. Men have been disproportionately affected by layoffs; they make up anywhere from 70 to 82 percent of those laid off, according to government statistics. The average length of unemployment is more than seven months, which Congress acknowledged last month by passing a benefits extension allowing those who have been out of work for more than six months to continue to receive unemployment pay…

“I’m a compulsive cleaner anyway … and when I was home all day, that’s basically what I did,” said Brad, a 28-year-old lawyer who was out of work for six months before finding a job earlier this year, and who requested his name be changed for this article. “If someone called me and said, ‘What are you doing right now?’ I would be like, ‘Oh, I have so many chores to do today.’ You make something out of nothing. I had one friend who, if you called him and asked him if he could hang out, when he was not working, he would be like, ‘Well, you know, I had a few phone calls to make, and then at some point I wanted to make a sandwich. …'”