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New Study Reveals That Almost Half Of The Workforce is Underemployed

There’s been plenty of press coverage on unemployment rates (which, let’s be honest, have been bleak!) for the past several years, but what’s been seriously lacking is a social discourse on something much more common: underemployment.

Underemployment tells a more complex story that unemployment rates simply cannot. Unemployment rates document the individuals who are not presently employed but are actively looking, so it doesn’t take into consideration the individuals who have given up with their search altogether. Just as importantly, it doesn’t account for a huge chunk of the employed workforce, those who are employed but are either not in their preferred field, or can’t find enough work—those who are underemployed.

I’ve written about underemployment before and how it has been affecting millennials, and a new study reveals that the situation is unfortunately not improving. However, the data does reveal some interesting trends and can help you avoid pitfalls that could lead you to being underemployed.

The study, conducted by, reveals that nearly half—46%—of respondents reported they were underemployed.

I’m going to pause for a moment so that you can soak that in… Almost half of this entire workforce (according to this study) is stuck in a job that is not leveraging their full capabilities… Pretty mega, right?

The study is clear: The higher your level of education, the lower the likelihood there is for you to face underemployment. Interestingly, however,rates were higher for those who have taken some college courses (without completing the degree) than for those who hold a high school diploma (or GED) and never took a college course. For individuals with advanced degrees, the MBA’s did not fare well: 41% reported being underemployed, with 90% reporting that they’re not using their education for their current jobs. This is yet another reason for why I think MBAs are a waste of money.

Unsurprisingly, profession and industry also made an impact in underemployment rates. Doctor’s fared well, with only 30% underemployment rates. Physical education and project management degree holders did not:System Support Technicians, Front End Supervisors, and Dog Groomers took the cake for the top three underemployed professions.

So what does all this mean for you and your career path? Well, if you opt to pursue your education while the job market is still in somewhat of a slump, make sure to do your homework about what type of degree to pursue. I’ve mentioned it before, but an MBA might not be the best route.

The world makes way for people who know where they’re going, so you owe it to yourself to pave your career with clarity and intention.

And if you don’t know what you want to do with your career? As my TEDx talk recommends, ask yourself three key questions: What are you good at? What do people tell you that you’re good at? What’s holding you back?

There’s always room at the top of every field, and if you’re facing underemployment, you owe it to yourself to hustle hard in that job hunt so that you can claim that career that was always waiting for you.

CLICK HERE to unlock Ashley’s free online course to find your purpose in the workforce!

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