Sunday, July 10, 2011

Millions of Underemployed Workers

A week ago, I posted “Only the Underemployed Can Save Us,” suggesting that people who are underemployed are in the best position to solve many of our new problems. What I didn’t emphasize at that point was how many people are in that group. More American workers are underemployed than ever in history.

About 10 million U.S. workers have part-time jobs because full-time work isn’t available to them. A larger number have become free-lancers only because they can’t get a permanent job anywhere. And still more are working at very easy jobs far beneath their skill levels because it is the best they can manage.

Add on a million workers who have been unemployed for only a week or two, and millions more who want to work but are waiting for the job market to improve. It may be true that most workers are stuck in some way, facing the stress of their jobs or of long-term unemployment, but perhaps as many as one out of every seven workers are in a favorable position to observe problems and find solutions.