Underemployment refers to employment that is inadequate, inferior, or low in quality, relative to some standard. All researchers agree that there is a small handful of distinct types of underemployment, but there is less agreement on exactly what counts as underemployment and how many types there are. Nevertheless, the following experiences are regularly classified as underemployment:

  • Overqualification: These workers possess surplus formal education; work experience; or knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) relative to the job demands or requirements.
  • Involuntary educational mismatch: These workers are employed in a field outside their area of education because they cannot find employment that better matches their education. This is a distinct category from overqualification in that these employees are differently qualified, rather than overqualified.
  • Involuntary part-time or temporary employment: These workers are ...
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