The Underemployed

The Gender Breakdown in Underemployment

When it comes to differences between the genders, women were more likely to consider themselves underemployed than men (49 percent and 43 percent, respectively). Of these, 79 percent of men felt they weren't using their education and training, compared to 72 percent of women. Women were more likely to want full-time but only have part-time work: 28 percent, compared to 21 percent of men.

These statistics may be a reflection of the gender opportunity gap; according to PayScale’s research, as employees climb the corporate ladder, men are often promoted more quickly than women, and women generally report more negative feelings about job satisfaction, job stress, and communication with their employers. (Learn more about the gender opportunity gap and the gender pay gap in PayScale’s report, Inside the Gender Pay Gap.)

Being underemployed is worse than frustrating; it's dangerous. It can rob you of skills and training you fought hard to master, and set you back with lasting results for the remainder of your career; some studies suggest the financial effects of underemployment can last for a decade or more. Perhaps worse, underemployed workers are at an increased risk of depression, increased stress, and lowered self-esteem.

If you find yourself caught in the cycle of underemployment and are looking for a new job, the first thing to do is to accurately assess the market, using tools like PayScale's Salary Survey. Then, research your job title and identify any personal skills gaps. Fill those, and you stand a better chance of finding new opportunities that take full advantage of your education and skills—and pay top dollar for the privilege.

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