PayScale Releases New Report “Underemployed: The War on the American Worker”

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Report finds lower educational levels more likely to report underemployment than those at higher educational levels; Gender Gap continues with women identifying as underemployed more often than men

PayScale, Inc., the world's leading provider of on-demand compensation data and software, today announced its new report “Underemployed: The War on the American Worker.”

The study included data from 962,956 workers collected between 3/21/2014 and 3/21/2016.

“There are many economic indicators followed by business and policy leaders to gauge the health of an economy. One notable such report is the monthly jobs report produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which includes unemployment figures. However, unemployment only tells part of the story. At PayScale, we believe another crucial indicator is underemployment – people who are either working at jobs that don’t leverage their education or seeking full-time work, but are working part-time. Therefore, we created our latest report tying underemployment figures to educational choices, jobs, and gender,” said Katie Bardaro, Lead Economist, PayScale.

“Underemployed: The War on the American Worker” provides the percentage of underemployed workers, along with the reason for their underemployment, broken down by:

Educational level
Degree level + Major combination

For underemployment reason, workers were further prompted, "Tell us more about your employment situation." Response choices were between:

“I am not working in a job that uses my education or training.”
“I am working part-time but want full-time work.”

“Underemployed: The War on the American Worker” highlights include:

  • Overall, 46% of survey respondents consider themselves underemployed. Of these respondents, 76% say they are not using their education/training while 24% say they are working only part-time but would like full-time work.
  • Doctors of Medicine (MD) degree holders (30%) have the lowest percentage of underemployment, followed by Doctorate (Ph.D.) holders (34%).
  • Workers with some college coursework but no degree (57%) have the highest percentage of underemployment, followed by GED holders and high school graduates (52%).
  • The percentage of underemployment is higher for workers with some college coursework but no college degree (57%) than for workers with only a GED or high school diploma (52%).
  • 90% of underemployed MBA degree holders reported the reason they’re underemployed is because they are not using their education and training.
  • Females (49%) are more likely to be underemployed than males (43%). Among underemployed females, the majority (73%) are not using their education/training.
  • The most relatively common jobs among underemployed workers are system support technician (2.30), front-end supervisor (2.03), and dog groomer and bather (1.96). There are many service jobs on this list.
  • The top three job titles of workers who are most often working part-time but are seeking full-time work are: 1. System Support Technician; 2. Front End Supervisor; 3. Dog Groomer and Bather.
  • The Degree Level/Major of workers who most commonly report being underemployed are: Physical Education Teaching/Bachelor (% Underemployed: 56.4%), Human Services/Bachelor (55.6%), Illustration/Bachelor (54.7%), Criminal Justice/Bachelor (53%), Project Management/Bachelor (52.8%

Adds Bardaro: “There are two underlying themes in this report: The importance of education and the persistence of the gender gap. The report notes underemployment decreases as educational attainment increases. Also, in addition to a pay gap and an opportunities gap, we see the gender gap materialize in underemployment as well: Women report a greater percentage of underemployment than their male counterparts.”

For more information on the “Underemployed: The War on the American Worker”:

About PayScale

PayScale powers compensation solutions in the cloud to provide immediate visibility into the right pay for any position. Creator of the world’s largest database of rich salary profiles, PayScale offers modern compensation software and real-time, data driven insights for employees and employers alike. More than 5,000 customers, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, use PayScale Benchmark™, PayScale Insight™ and MarketPay. These include Bloomberg BNA, Cummins, Intercom, Time Warner, Clemson University and Signature HealthCARE.

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