MAKING SENSE -- March 29, 2012 at 12:58 PM ET
Where Does Temp Work Fit Into Underemployment?
Unemployed and underemployed workers and supporters at the American Dream Movement Rally in October 2011. Creative Commons photo by David Sachs/SEIU lnternational.
Paul Solman frequently answers questions from the NewsHour audience on business and economic news on his Making Sen$e page. Here is Thursday's query:
Question: After reading the piece on underemployment, I see part-timers are calculated in underemployment numbers. But what about people doing temporary work? I'm an unemployed/underemployed attorney surviving on document review work that involves projects that start and stop without notice, often with large gaps in between. Does the agency that places me report a job placement for a given time period even though I may not be working for a good chunk of it? Is this captured in conventional underemployment numbers?
Paul Solman: Yes it is, Steve, so long as people like you tell the truth when the survey taker from the Bureau of Labor Statistics comes calling. The BLS interviews 60,000 households a month. The underemployment tally comes from those interviews. You are counted as "part-time for economic reasons" if you say you worked less than full-time, but are looking for full-time work.