Underemployment in the United States
The degree of underemployment (see definition to the right) varies widely in the nation.
The percents shown on this map indicate the extent to which the supply of high-skilled workers exceeds the demand.
(Negative values indicate the supply of high-skilled workers is lower than demand.)
- -36% to -13%
- -13% to -6%
- -6% to 0%
- 1% to 5%
- 5% to 11%
- 11% to 25%
U.S. Metropolitan Areas Ranked by Underemployment
The metropolitan areas are ranked according to which have the largest surpluses of high-skilled workers.
The percents shown here are the percentage point differences between supply and demand—positive numbers indicate
supply exceeds demand. Workers are classified into three categories according to their highest educational
attainment: "high" - bachelor's degree or higher; "medium" - associate's degree or some college; and "low" -
high school graduate or lower.
What Are Underemployed Workers?
An underemployed worker is someone who is working in a position below
his or her level of qualifications—for example, someone with a master's
degree who is working as a retail salesperson. Note, however, that this
underemployment analysis compares and defines underemployment against the
current national average. Therefore, what appears to be underemployment
in some cases may reflect higher standards for occupations in certain
regions—for example, an occupation usually held by a person with a bachelor's
degree in one metro may be typically held by someone with a master's degree
in another metro.
Chmura Economics & Analytics is a provider of applied economic consulting, quantitative research,
and software solutions requiring the integration of advanced economic analysis. Chmura publishes
Weekly Economic Update and other publications
available via chmuraecon.com.
Software products include JobsEQ®, WIBeq™, Career Concourse, and OnStage.
Chmura's underemployment analysis is a comparison of educational attainment supply and demand in a given
The labor force of a region comprises workers at jobs within the region whether they be residents or commuters.
Educational attainment supply is the number of individuals in the labor force with various
educational attainment levels (high school graduate, 2-year college degree, etc). Demand is
determined by the number and types of occupations currently employed at-place in the geographic area along with
their typical educational makeup. Source data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the US Census Bureau are
used in this analysis performed for 2014q4. Skill groupings are defined as follows: low skill - highest
educational attainment of a high school diploma, equivalent, or lower; medium skill - highest attainment of a
2-year college degree, certificate, or some college and no degree; high skill - bachelor's degree or higher.
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