The falloff has been sharpest for men, for whom the proportion had been on a slow decline before the recession. The percentage of prime-age men who are working is smaller now than it has been in any time before the recession, going all the way back to 1948, according to federal statistics.The only reason why the percentage of American women in the workforce isn't at all-time lows is because women didn't enter the workforce en masse until the 1970's. Prior to the 1970's, it was possible to raise a family with a single income (typically, the male's). But then the Government, in its infinite wisdom, decoupled gold from the dollar. And so inflation killed off the American housewife.
And then the government, in its infinite wisdom, forced Fannie and Freddie to relax their mortgage purchasing standards. And so the economy crashed. And now the American male breadwinner is in danger. These days, many former male breadwinners have been forced out of their careers and are working McJobs. But Uncle Sam is even threatening former male breadwinners' prospects for menial employment.