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Where Does Temp Work Fit Into Underemployment?

Underemployed American Dream
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:

Name: Steve

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?

Making Sense

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.

This entry is cross-posted on the Making Sen$e page, where correspondent Paul Solman answers your economic and business questions

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