In the new analysis, Lonnie Golden, an economist at Penn State, and Jaeseung Kim, an assistant professor of social work at the University of South Carolina, used surveys to find workers who wanted more hours while still keeping a part-time schedule—fast-food employees who wanted 20 hours a week instead of 15, for example, or home health aides who wanted just one more shift. Including such workers, the underemployment rate was roughly twice as high as the government’s headline figure, between 8 and 11 percent as of 2016.
That is a straightforward measure of household strife: Research shows that the underemployed experience much of the same financial, emotional, and physical stress as jobless workers, if less intensely. “Getting people to have the hours that they want makes a huge difference in their lives,” Golden told me. “Underemployment is really semi-unemployment.”
The CLASP data point is one of many indicating that American