While unemployment remains staunchly above 8 percent, a little discussed phenomenon called underemployment looms in the background. The unemployment rate factors in the number of people who are actively searching for jobs but who can’t get hired. What the unemployment rate does not factor in is underemployment, which emerges in a variety of scenarios among today’s workforce.
When politicians say that jobs were added to the economy, what they don’t say is what kind of jobs were added. The National Employment Law Project released some startling stats in their latest report on job recovery. For low-wage jobs, the economy lost 21 percent during the recession, but has since gained 58 percent. In a crisscross effect, mid-wage jobs declined 58 percent during the recession, but gained just 22 percent during the recovery. For those 40 percent of mid-wage earners who lost their job, they are most likely underemployed with one or multiple low-wage jobs to make up for previous income. Higher wage jobs had an even-steven transaction, losing 20 percent during the recession and gaining the same amount during the recovery.