Finding opportunity out of underemployment

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The unemployment numbers on the first Friday of every month only tell part of the economic story. All this week, The Takeaway is looking at underemployment. We want to hear your story. Call us at 877-8MY-TAKE.
Roughly 6.4 million American workers are underemployed—that means that over four percent of them would prefer full-time work but just can’t find it. In a few days the Department of Labor will post new underemployment numbers that are likely to be even higher. Marci Alboher is author of One Person/Multiple Careers and until recently the writer behind The New York Times blog, "Shifting Careers."


Marci Alboher

Comments [14]

Jane Veers from Kankakee, IL

Celeste Hedley,
"How do you get kids to eat eggplant parmesan"? I know it was an offhand comment, but that was a terrible example of healthy eating if that's the kind of contrast you were trying to make. Eggplant Parmesan is chock full of calories from being salted, dipped in egg batter, breaded and fried then smothered in sauce!


Feb. 09 2010 08:18 AM
David Mattingly

Could you guys stop interviewing John Bolton every day about having Bill Clinton go to North Korea? As far as I am concerned, John Bolton have been wrong on every issue since he first spoke up in kindergarten, so I am hard pressed to figure out why you are constantly interviewing him. Can't he just be happy for the families that the 2 women were let go? Does this really have any wider foriegn policay implications at all?
God bless Bill Clinton!!
David Mattingly

Aug. 06 2009 09:25 AM

John & Adaora,

How is it you see it as a gigantic social problem that teenagers, (a major demographic group identified by your expert this morning), are having to take part-time work?

First, do you listen to your show and say, "hmmh, are we following a logical sequence?" Second, is it that you're like the Democrat party who has given up on public education delaring it broken, [unlees hundreds of billions more can be found for it], and are just assuming that the best path for ALL teenagers is full time work?

For sure, there are terrible social problems out there so please don't try to invent new ones just to create fodder for your show. By the way, are you and Adaora less than 40 hour a week employees for production of this show?

Dec. 04 2008 07:47 AM

Could we have reached the point where there are simply more people in the country than the economy can support? That by continually improving the productivity of the american worker, we have reached the point where we are able to produce all we need with only a few of the people involved in actual production.

Must we simply find some other purpose for the rest of the population? Is that why we need the infrastructure spending?

Dec. 03 2008 10:11 PM
Sam Liu

After left a comment this morning, I went to my daily reading at the local Barnes & Noble. The book I picked up today is Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers". The chapter I read is "The 10,000 Hour Rule". There is a short excerpt on the author's website:

The argument is that you need about 10,000 hours to build skills before becoming a master in any field. The most successful people are the ones who had 10,000 hours ready when the opportunity showed up.

Compare Obama to Lincoln, you can make an argument that we MIGHT come to another golden era when the American economy goes through a great transformation in its history. So if you have your 10,000 hours ready, what you should do is to create opportunity for it.

Dec. 03 2008 03:49 PM

They told me I had a bright future ahead of me when I finished my undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at Penn State. Manufacturing in North America died the next day. After ten years in a factory, I was making 46k. Designing medical devices for open heart surgery is "important work", but the pay sucks. Then I noticed that my friends in financial services were making two of three times my salary. So, I went out and got an MBA from the Stern school at NYU. Since then I have been almost unemployable. I can’t get an engineering job because I’m "overqualified". I never got the big post MBA career because I have no relevant work experience. I failed to make the case that my quantitative skills are transferable. Now the recession comes along and I have lost my job as a legal analyst. I’m looking for work, but my resume is holding me back.

Dec. 03 2008 11:16 AM

I am currently an accounting clerk 3 days a week, a hairdresser 3 days a week and of my time off , I am a mother, wife, and caretaker. I don't know how much longer I can last.We're just surving what happened?

Dec. 03 2008 10:19 AM

I was a full time textile designer in Manhattan for 16 years until our largest client mill in NC went bankrupt.
Since then, I have found partial employment freelancing, making jewelry, and helping my single Mom sister. No longer receiving health benefits, we pay for catastrophic health insurance out of pocket and my income is 1/3 of what it used to be.

Dec. 03 2008 10:13 AM

I have comfortably come to realize that my 6-figure income in RETAIL is a thing of the past... I have recently lived in Bogotá, Colombia and, call me crazy, I just came back to participate in this CRISIS. I am going to be teaching English to immigrants (at a pay for classes school) here in NYC. I am taking classes over the next 3 weeks to get my teaching certificate. My other "slash jobs" are: 1) I will be doing catering gigs (at the ripe old age of 45) 2) AND I will be an English Coach to those non-native English speakers (who need to prepare for a presentation or speech). 3) Selling my "junk" on ebay and getting some income that way. I hope to get insurance through - am keeping my fingers crossed...

Dec. 03 2008 09:11 AM

It has been difficult to find one career since college. I started out following my husbands career and having children early. Through the years I have been a teacher, a writer, an artist, a photographer, a graphic designer, a chef, and a multimedia manager. Today I am in graduate school still trying to keep myself interesting to future employers. I have always been proud of the variety, but often found others did not like my multi-career track. As someone who has studied history - I am all for the Renaissance man or woman, a la Da Vinci.

Dec. 03 2008 08:55 AM
Marco McFarren

I was under employed from the day I graduated college. I tried to change career fields only to land in the middle of the IT bubble collapse. For most of 8 years I had no insurance and no stability. Finally, in 2006 I was working 3 jobs for more than 50 hours per week, with no health insurance and no career options. I took out a massive loan and moved overseas to teach English.
I am currently in Japan, I have health insurance, a great job, and I can afford to send myself back for a masters degree, online of course!

Dec. 03 2008 08:15 AM

horse stable stall mucker/trail guide/grocery cashier/banquet waitress/sandwich shop waitress/contact lens maker/boat tops and cover seamstress/sail-maker seamstress/waitress/ professional NLF football handicapper's assistant/
bartender/bed & breakfast manager & domestic/stage actress/commercial actress/Macy's inventory tabulator/cater-waiter/online banking prototype maker and focus group tester/waitress/public relations production help/restaurant manager/photographers assistant/model casting photographer/Public Relations Firm Office Manager.
more to come!

Dec. 03 2008 08:15 AM
Sam Liu

As a former college professor making a transition to a small business entrepreneur, I am in a process of building a "business school" for myself to learn everything I need to create business opportunity. I am both the student and professor in this school. In the near future I will open my school to the public and make itself a business opportunity.

Dec. 03 2008 07:14 AM
Naomi Nissen

Dont' know if this is what you're looking for, because I'm not doing all these at once, but over my long parttime career I have been: an actress, a word processor, a radio engineer at the United Nations, a software trainer at the United nations, a radio producer for talk radio in NYC, a shrimp shucker in a malay market, a help desk support person for financial firms, a graphics artist, a flute teacher, a waitress, and a project administrator in the NYC school system.

Dec. 03 2008 07:00 AM

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