Nearly 20% of Workers Underemployed
February 23th, 2010
By Jenny Mariar
Gallup’s daily measure of U.S. employment reveals that 19.9% of the U.S. workforce was underemployed during the month of January, translating to close to 30 million Americans who are working less than their desired capacity. Those who were underemployed reported spending 36% less than those who were employed, $48 per day versus $75 per day.
These results are based on January interviews with more than 20,000 adults in the U.S. workforce, aged 18 and older. Gallup classifies respondents as “employed” if they are employed full time or are employed part time but do not want to work full time. Gallup classifies respondents as “underemployed” if they are employed part time but want to work full time or are unemployed.
As unemployment rates remain high, reduced spending by millions of underemployed Americans has obvious implications for economic recovery. Spending is, however, just one of many ways underemployment costs the U.S. and hurts its workforce. Gallup’s employment measure also reveals further disparities between the employed and the underemployed on vital indicators such as attitudes toward money, access to healthcare, demographics, and wellbeing.
Underemployment is generally associated with a less-than-desired income, and Gallup data highlight the stark contrast in spending attitudes between the employed and the underemployed. Sixty percent of employed respondents feel good about the amount of money they have to spend, while only half as many (29%) of the underemployed report feeling good. Further, the underemployed are less likely than the employed to say they are able to make a major purchase, such as a car or home repair, if needed (25% vs. 58%, respectively).