Alert
Close

Last Chance: Top the Treasure Hunt leaderboard by 5 p.m. today to win a $100 gift card! Learn more

Highlights

Open

Real Possibilities

AARP Real Possibilities

Auto mechanics in repair shop. Small Business Resource Center

Contests and
Sweeps

Safe Driving in 2014 Sweepstakes

Learn how AARP Driver Safety can help you stay safe—and enter for a chance to win $1,000. See official rules. 

AARP Games Tournament

AARP-iPad-ePub-app
Car buying made easy with the AARP Auto Buying Program

PROGRAMS & RESOURCES

Best Employers for Workers Over 50

See the latest winners of this AARP recognition program.

Your Own Business

Information for business owners, entrepreneurs and the self-employed.

Back to Work 50+

Connecting employers and unemployed workers 50+.

Most Popular
ARTICLES

Viewed

Laid-Off Workers Settle for Part-time Jobs

It's the only way to pay the bills

Half a salary is better than none. And these days, it takes 50-year-old Phil Bookfor three part-time jobs just to earn that.

After 17 years at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City, N.J., where he worked as a supervisor making $48,000 a year, Bookfor got laid off in 2007. He's been unable to land a full-time job since. So he works as a waiter at two restaurants and as a concierge at a convention center — sometimes all in the same week.

See also: Unemployed face bias.

"It's hard to juggle three jobs," says Bookfor, who credits his gym routine with keeping him fit, energetic and upbeat. "One calls you to come in, another calls you on the same day and you can't go, so they think they can't depend on you. It's tough."

Welcome to the new post-recession labor landscape. Since December 2007, U.S. employers have shed 8.7 million jobs, and as of April had added back only about 1.8 million. Consequently, older and younger workers alike are increasingly forced to accept part-time or temporary jobs in lieu of full-time work, or take full-time positions inappropriate to their skill level and previous pay grade.

To make ends meet, laid-off managers now work as cashiers. Unemployed teachers are delivering pizzas. Engineers are fixing computers. These are the underemployed, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), their growth as a group is unprecedented.

Phil Bookfor is over 50 and due to the recession juggles three jobs, one as a restaurant recommendation representative in Atlantic City.

Phil Bookfor, of Atlantic City, juggles three jobs. — Jon Lowenstein/NOOR

Blame a weak labor market. Even though jobs creation has gained momentum recently, the economic recovery has been painfully slow. "Many of the jobs people had before the recession may have disappeared, so they've been forced to take something that may not utilize their skills or abilities," says Sara Rix, senior strategic policy adviser at AARP. "Also, it's often easier for people to find employment if they have a job."

Many economists say the underemployment rate is a truer gauge of the nation's job situation than the unemployment rate alone. While unemployment has dropped to 9 percent, the underemployment rate has hardly budged, and remains at 19 percent, according to the Gallup polling and research firm.

How underemployment is defined often depends on which group is tracking it. Generally, it implies work that's inappropriate to a worker's education and qualifications. Gallup classifies the underemployed as those who are jobless or working part time but want full-time work. To the BLS, the definition also includes unemployed people who were so discouraged that they stopped looking for jobs.

Frances McKee-Ryan, assistant professor of business and management at the University of Nevada at Reno, says underemployment is prevalent but consistently overlooked by researchers as a subject worth examining. In a recent study, she predicted that underemployment "will increase in both its scope and severity" as jobless adults reenter the workforce.

Next: Here's what you need to do if you're underemployed. >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Jobs You Might Like

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

UPS

Members get 15% off eligible products/services and 5% off shipping at The UPS Store®.

AARP Discounts on Consumer Cellular Phones and Plans

Members save 5% on monthly service and usage charges with Consumer Cellular.

Member Benefits

Renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Explore Your Learning Possiblities