Sunday, August 10, 2014

Underemployment

Underemployment refers to an employment situation that is insufficient in some important way for the worker, relative to a standard. Examples include holding a part-time job despite desiring full-time work, and overqualification, where the employee has education, experience, or skills beyond the requirements of the job.

Underemployment has been studied in recent decades from a variety of perspectives, including economics, management, psychology, and sociology. In economics, for example, the term underemployment has three different distinct meanings and applications. All meanings involve a situation in which a person is working, unlike unemployment, where a person who is searching for work cannot find a job. All meanings involve under-utilization of labor which is missed by most official (governmental agency) definitions and measurements of unemployment.

Underemployment can refer to:

  1. "Overqualification" or "overeducation", or the employment of workers with high education, skill levels, and/or experience in jobs that do not require such abilities. For example, a trained medical doctor who works as a taxi driver would experience this type of underemployment.
  2. "Involuntary part-time" work, where workers who could (and would like to) be working for a full work-week can only find part-time work. By extension, the term is also used in regional planning to describe regions where economic activity rates are unusually low, due to a lack of job opportunities, training opportunities, or due to a lack of services such as childcare and public transportation.
  3. "Overstaffing" or "hidden unemployment" (also called "labor hoarding"), the practice in which businesses or entire economies employ workers who are not fully occupied---for example, workers currently not being used to produce goods or services due to legal or social restrictions or because the work is highly seasonal.

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