ROCK FALLS, Ill. — Alan Beggerow has stopped looking for work. Laid off as a steelworker at 48, he taught math for a while at a community college. But when that ended, he could not find a job that, in his view, was neither demeaning nor underpaid. So instead of heading to work, Mr. Beggerow, now 53, fills his days with diversions: playing the piano, reading histories and biographies, writing unpublished Western potboilers in the Louis L’Amour style – all activities once relegated to spare time. He often stays up late and sleeps until 11 a.m. ‘I have come to realize that my free time is worth a lot to me,’ he said. To make ends meet, he has tapped the equity in his home through a $30,000 second mortgage, and he is drawing down the family’s savings, at the rate of $7,500 a year. About $60,000 is left. His wife’s income helps them scrape by. ‘If things really get tight,’ Mr. Beggerow said, ‘I might have to take a low-wage job, but I don’t want to do that.’ Millions of men like Mr. Beggerow – men in the prime of their lives, between 30 and 55 […]

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