Underemployment – Is that really a thing?

“What you need, what you have is real, it’s not enough” – Not Enough

In today’s economy people are facing a debt crisis because of unemployment.  Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs in the last 24 months, have lived off their savings, used their credit cards for basic needs and are now feeling the debt load they carry.   I suffered unemployment last year and it is very difficult.  For those in this place know that there are resources to help you.   Keep fighting the good fight, keep applying, keep trying!

But what about those of us that have jobs but they just don’t pay enough?  This is now referred to as being underemployed.  There are three main definitions for underemployment – let me paraphrase:

1.  A person with great skill and education working in a low paying job
2. A person who could work full time but is only working part time because that is all they can find for work
3. A person who is employed full time but has no work (maybe due to over staffing or seasonal work)

This is where we find ourselves.  My husband is a combination of #2 and #3.   He has a guaranteed monthly income with his company but it is less than 40 hours a week (#2).  He also works for his company on an on-call basis.  During the winter he worked very little, this summer it has picked up but rarely hits the 40 or more hours a week he needs to cover our basic living expenses (#3).

The first question I always get is “Why doesn’t he get a different job?”

1.  See the first paragraph.  The economy is very, very difficult.  He is blessed to have a job at all, much less one in his field that he enjoys.

2.  Benefits.  There are many employers in my husbands field that do not offer benefits.  As a family of 4 we need to have basic medical coverage at a reasonable rate.  My husband can not take a job where benefits are not part of the deal.

3.  Future opportunity.  If my husband can make it through this season with his company there are great rewards on the other side.  Most people that make it through this on-call period obtain a regular full time position and stay with the company between 20 and 30 years.  At a time like this that is invaluable.

So how do we fight underemployment?  Well, we are a praying group so we start there.  We pray that our basic needs of food, shelter and clothing will be provided and we have never been let down.  Second, we have a plan.  We have agreed to stay in this position for 3 years minimum.  We have 14 months in so far.  We will evaluate near the 3 year mark if it is wise to continue or if we should have a new plan.  Third, we live simply.  Very simply.  We wrote down all the things we have changed in our life the last 14 months and were surprised that it took up a whole page!

Are you underemployed?  What is your plan for making your current position work or getting a new job?  Share with us in the comments what is keeping you going on the path you are on!

Join us tomorrow for:  Mama can wear a suit, so why not?

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~ by Rachael Judd on June 21, 2010.

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