Underemployment measures the total number of people in an economy who are unwillingly working in low-skill and low-paying jobs or only part-time because they cannot get full-time jobs that use their skills. Or underemployment is when someone has a job but doesn’t use their talents or give them enough hours. It’s like when people work jobs that don’t match their skills, experience, or goals.
When people are underemployed, they may be working in jobs that don’t pay enough or give them enough hours or be in jobs that are way too different from their skills. This can make them unhappy at work, and they may not make as much money as they would if they had a better job that suited them.
Being underemployed is a challenge for both the worker and the economy at large. If you’re not getting enough hours, you may be always hanging by a thread, not to mention missing out on stuff like decent health insurance or moving up the ranks. But zooming out a bit, underemployment also severely affects countries’ GDP – because if people aren’t making as much money, they’re not going to spend as much, which can throw off the whole economic ecosystem.
Examples of Underemployment
- Someone who has a technical degree in engineering and is currently doing a retail job because they can’t land a job in their area of expertise.
- Someone who works part-time but wants to work full-time in the company/firm but can only seem to find a part-time job.
- A highly skilled professional who is working in a job that does not require their level of education, such as a lawyer working as a legal assistant.
- An individual who is stuck in a stressful job, like a cashier who has been working at the same store forever with no scope of promotion.
- Someone who is working a job that doesn’t pay enough to make ends meet, like a tuition teacher or small healthcare worker who feels undervalued and underpaid.
Underemployment in Other Sectors
The job market is severely affected by underemployment, not just in farming. It also happens when individuals have jobs, but they need to put their all into them, or their education and talents need to be put to good use. Check out some of these other sectors that are seeing underemployment:
- Service Sector: When people work part-time, get paid less, and can’t move up the job ladder, they’re underemployed. Like, imagine someone with a higher degree in education, but they’re stuck working part-time at the mall. That’s underemployment right there.
- Manufacturing Sector: Result of machines establishments and hiring people from other places, there are fewer jobs in factories than there used to be. Sometimes, talented employees get fired or need more stuff to do at work. Like, let’s say an engineer got fired from their factory job, and now they only get little freelance jobs with similar skills – that means they’re using only some of their skills, which is a loss of its potential.
- Creative Industries: Industries that require creativity, like movies, tunes, and art, may have few permanent jobs up for grabs. You’ll likely work as a freelancer or part-timer, which could leave you underemployed even if you’re really good at what you do. So, a skilled graphic designer with qualifications and full of experience might struggle to land a job where they get to do advertising full-time.
- Health Care Sector: In the healthcare sector, underemployment can manifest as an over-supply of skilled workers in certain fields or a mismatch between skills and job requirements. For example, a nurse with a specialized degree may be unable to find a job in their field and may end up working as a home health aide.
Being stuck in a dead-end job isn’t just for farmers. It can happen in any line of work if your talents don’t match the job demands or if there’s no room to grow and get steady employment.
FAQs on Underemployment
Question 1: What is underemployment?
Underemployment is when individuals have a job but aren’t getting the chance to use their smarts, learning, or know-how to the fullest extent, which causes them to get paid less and feel depressed about their job.
Question 2: What can be done to address underemployment in non-agricultural sectors?
To tackle the issue of not having enough jobs in other industries, actions to be taken like teaching workers new things, making more job options by funding projects, and making new laws to make sure workers are treated fairly. One way to do this is by giving tax breaks to companies that want to train their employees to get better jobs.
Question 3: How can we measure underemployment in non-agricultural sectors?
One method is to check how many people want full-time jobs but need help finding part-time work. Another way is to compare how much people get paid for their education and expertise in a particular field. If many people with degrees are getting paid less in one industry, it might mean that the people are underemployed.
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