Economic Snapshot | Economic Growth

Stimulus now! Underemployment at 14-year high

Snapshot for October 15, 2008.

Stimulus now! Underemployment at 14-year high

by Nooshin Mahalia

The growing number of underemployed workers is painting a grim picture of the difficulties jobseekers are facing. Underemployment is a more comprehensive measure of labor market slack than headline-grabbing unemployment rates because it also includes part-time workers who want full-time jobs (“involuntarily” part-time workers), and jobless workers who want a job but are not actively seeking employment (“marginally attached” workers).

At 11%, the underemployment rate in September was at its highest in more than 14 years. The underemployed currently includes about 9.5 million unemployed workers, 6.1 million involuntarily part-time workers, and 1.6 million workers only marginally attached to the workforce.1 The fact that one out of every nine U.S. workers is now either unemployed or underemployed is clear evidence of the need for a second stimulus package targeted at job creation.


1. Data on the number of unemployed and the number of involuntarily part-time workers are seasonally adjusted. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not release the seasonally adjusted number of marginally attached workers so the reported number is not seasonally adjusted.