The Underemployment Boom

By Kennedy, Shirley Duglin | Information Today, June 2012 | Go to article overview

The Underemployment Boom


Kennedy, Shirley Duglin, Information Today


"I don't even know what I'm looking for," says Michael Bledsoe, who described months of fruitless job searches as he served customers at a Seattle coffeehouse. The 23-year-old graduated in 2010 with a creative writing degree.

--"1 in 2 New Graduates Are Jobless or Underemployed" by Hope Yen, Associated Press, April 22, 2012

I feel bad for young people today. I am a mother to two of them.

I've seen how difficult it is out there in the dismal job market, where so many college students rack up thousands and thousands of dollars in student loans, and then, they can't find a job that pays much more than minimum wage once they graduate.

This isn't to say that higher education isn't valued. The AP article cited at the beginning of my column noted the sad fact that young people who have a college degree, even in one of the "unmarketable" majors, are often preferred by employers for menial jobs in retail, food/hospitality, customer service, and so on; those jobs once went to students whose education terminated with a high school diploma. Thus, we have a boom in "underemployment."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Now, high school graduates who have furthered their education via a career-oriented program at a community college or through a trade apprenticeship are usually in a much better position to secure gainful employment. Nurses are always needed (since we have an aging population), and there is no underestimating the value of a skilled auto mechanic (since we have such highly computerized, complicated vehicles).

Where the Jobs Are

Of the 20 occupations with the highest projected number of job openings by 2020, only two require a bachelor's degree or higher, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov/ooh/mostnew-jobs.htm). One of these is for elementary schoolteachers. The other? Postsecondary teachers, of course, because "enrollments at postsecondary institutions at all levels continue to rise" (www.bls.gov/ooh/ education-training-and-library/ postsecondary-teachers.htm).

Many of the other occupations on the list are gigs that cannot easily be outsourced or replaced by computers, including home health aides, janitors, tractor-trailer drivers, cashiers ... you get the picture.

As for college grads, not all of them are working at American Eagle or Starbucks. Some majors are in high demand. AP noted that those with nursing, teaching, accounting, or computer science degrees were most likely to have found employment suitable for their education level. Those who were least likely included zoology, anthropology, philosophy, art history, and humanities majors.

Many of us who ended up in the library profession were arts and sciences majors in undergraduate school. My undergraduate degree is in business administration, another somewhat oversubscribed major that has produced a glut of underemployed office workers who have supplanted non-B.S.-credentialed clerks and receptionists.

The Changing Times

I remember thinking that a master's degree in library science represented job security, but we all know that times have changed. Special libraries continue to disappear, school media specialists are becoming an endangered species, and budget cuts have decimated public and academic libraries.

However, we can take comfort in the fact that we didn't squander even more time and money by going to law school, another refuge for undergraduate liberal arts majors. There are a heck of a lot of unemployed attorneys floating around who arguably would have been better off going to a community college and getting a paralegal certificate. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Underemployment Boom
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.