PayScale Releases Special Report: Underemployment In America

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Report assesses the most underemployed college undergraduate majors and the 15 most underemployed metropolitan areas.

PayScale, Inc. today announced the special report “Underemployment In America,” based on an analysis of PayScale's 40 million career profiles.

“Underemployment In America” provides the 10 most underemployed majors for graduates with a bachelor's degree (and no higher degree), and the most common jobs for those majors that highlight the underemployment issue. The report also examines the 15 most underemployed metropolitan statistical areas (out of the 100 largest MSAs) and their typical starting median pay. Finally, it provides the typical starting and national median pay across seven different school categories.

“In today’s economy, having a college degree no longer guarantees placement into a white collar job,” said Katie Bardaro, lead economist for PayScale. “The labor pool is oversaturated with college graduates, and job opportunities are simply not there. Underemployment is a concern for many college graduates, but underemployment is definitely real for certain majors, like business, criminal justice and drama. For these majors, more people are graduating than are in demand by potential employers.”

Some highlights from the “Underemployment In America” report are:

  •     For college graduates who hold only a bachelor’s degree, Business Administration and Management majors have the highest relative ratio of underemployment (8.2x what is typical nationally). This is higher than majors that traditionally get a bad rap for having poor job prospects, like English (4.6x) and Liberal Arts (5.6x).
  •     Some of the most common jobs for underemployed workers include Administrative Assistants, Customer Service Representatives (CSR), and Paralegal / Legal Assistants.
  •     The typical starting median pay for workers working in jobs that are common for the underemployed can range from $19,000 (for a full time Barista) to $49,600 (for an Operations Manager).
  •     The typical starting median pay for workers in the 10 most underemployed metropolitan statistical areas ranges from $30,100 (Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA) to $38,500 (Stockton, CA).
  •     Of the school categories, Business schools have the highest relative ratio of underemployment (1.17x what is typical nationally) while Engineering schools have the lowest (0.36x).

For more information on methodology, please go to:

Adds Bardaro: “Underemployment can have lasting effects on local economies.. As fewer people are able to find the jobs that match their qualifications or desired hours, less money cycles through the economy, and businesses continue to hold back on hiring. It is a compounding cycle that can mean real trouble for the metros on our list.”

About PayScale
Creator of the largest database of individual compensation profiles in the world, PayScale, Inc. provides an immediate and precise snapshot of current market salaries to employees and employers through its online tools and software. PayScale's products are powered by innovative search and query algorithms that dynamically acquire, analyze and aggregate compensation information for millions of individuals in real time. Publisher of the quarterly PayScale Index™, PayScale's subscription software products for employers include PayScale MarketRate™ and PayScale Insight™. Among PayScale's 2,500 corporate customers are organizations small and large across industries including Mozilla, Tully’s Coffee, Clemson University and the United States Postal Service. For more information, visit

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