Imagine being served your poolside drinks by a lawyer, or getting your chicken sandwich delivered by an experienced marketing professional. The first is a friend of mine, the second my waitress a few weeks ago. Both lost jobs due to economic downturns at their organizations. Both took available work to pay the bills while looking for new positions in their chosen professions.
My friend and the waitress are victims of a massive but hidden problem called underemployment. Watching falling unemployment numbers being reported at 6.2%, down from nearly 10% four years earlier, is simply misleading.
Despite the significant decrease in the official U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) unemployment rate, the real unemployment rate is over double that at 12.6%. This number reflects the government’s “U-6” report, which accounts for the full unemployment picture including those “marginally attached to the labor force,” plus those “employed part time for economic reasons.” (read)