The vast and invisible ‘sub-employed’
Ozy - 05/09/2014
Got a job? Count your blessings. Got one that uses your skills and pays you for them? Wow.
The U.S. employment picture is definitely brightening. An unforeseen surge in jobs gained helped drop the jobless rate to 6.3 percent in April. The Federal Reserve thought we wouldn’t get there until the end of the year.
Yet ignored as always in the monthly report: the continuing plight of the “sub-employed” — the vast population of workers whom the Great Recession demoted to jobs below their education, experience and skill levels. They’re the journeyman carpenters advising do-it-yourselfers in Home Depot, the bank loan processers fielding customer-service calls for Verizon, the restaurant managers frothing lattes at Starbucks.
Labor economists agree that today’s sub-employed likely number in the millions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and research economists don’t count them. The Fed tracks “capacity utilization” of American factories each month, but under-utilization of human capital — arguably the nation’s most important resource — is anyone’s guess.