Ga., SC both among top of 'underemployed' states

By: Katie Beasley Email
By: Katie Beasley Email

The underemployment rate, unlike unemployment rate, considers part-time workers looking for full-time work or employees who are making less than they were before the recession. (WRW-TV / Aug. 7, 2012)

News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- We've all heard of the unemployment rate, but what about the underemployment rate? It's a number being thrown around more and more. Both Georgia and South Carolina are among the top for employees looking for something more.

Kathleen Cavender followed her husband to Augusta, and last month, she finally found a temporary job.

"HR is a new experience for me, and I'm learning as I go," she said.

Cavender took a pay cut from her Virginia paralegal job. She's one of thousands considered underemployed.

"Underemployment is not a bad thing, I don't think. It's not a bad thing, it's people that are still trying to get something in the bank account," she said.

The underemployment rate, unlike the unemployment rate, considers part-time workers looking for full-time work or employees who are making less than they were before the recession.

"We have a lot of examples of people that are working for us today that are maybe in a temporary job hoping to get a full-time job but in the meantime, they're not sitting at home whining about it," said Randy Hatcher, the president of MAU Inc.

New numbers from the Federal Department of Labor show Georgia's underemployment is at 16.4 percent. Only 11 states have higher numbers, including South Carolina at 17 percent and Nevada at 22.1 percent.

"I do admire people who go to work and get out and do something rather than sit at home and do nothing," Hatcher said.

"Of course, everyone likes to make more money, if they can, or have a full-time position, if they can," Cavender said.

Experts say there are a few trends to look out for this fall -- one is parents heading back to work.

"There have been some people that needed a job, but maybe their kids were out of school, and so now with kids going back to school, I think you'll see a natural evolution of those people saying, all right ... I need to get back to work," Hatcher said.

Another is an improving housing market.

"I'm excited about what that could portend in the fall and what that might really mean in job growth because we've really been waiting on that," he said.

In the meantime, Cavender will continue to look toward her future.

"Long term, I would like to work at a nice big law firm and be a paralegal," she said.

Hatcher mentioned some other trends he's noticing, like private employer job growth is up from last year. Manufacturing jobs in the automotive field are also at the highest growth rates in years. Hatcher says there are some negative trends, too, like many of the unemployed people who decide they'd rather keep the unemployment check rather than accept a job.

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