Even as the economy slowly gathers steam, men like Mr. Camp­bell, who lack col­lege degrees, are increas­ingly falling behind. Many man­u­fac­turing jobs that kept blue-​​collar workers afloat have van­ished. And wages have plunged.

Between 1979 and 2007, wages for men under 30 with only a high school diploma fell nearly 29 per­cent, according to a 2011 study by Andrew Sum, a pro­fessor of eco­nomics at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity in Boston. And that was before the Great Reces­sion and the weak eco­nomic recovery that has followed.

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