Degrees With the Worst Underemployment Rates

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The higher the level of college degree that you obtain, the lower your chances of being underemployed, a new study finds.

New research is giving new meaning to the value of a college degree.

The higher the level of college degree that you obtain, the lower your chances of being underemployed, according to the findings of an underemployment study published by PayScale on Wednesday.

For the study, the salary data website surveyed more than 900,000 workers about whether they believe they are underemployed.

PayScale defines underemployment as one of the following:

  • Having part-time work but wanting to work full-time
  • Holding a job that doesn’t require or utilize your education, experience or training

The vast majority of workers who describe themselves as underemployed say they feel that way because they are not using their education or training in their current job, PayScale found.

The second-most common explanation for why people feel underemployed is because they can only find part-time work despite seeking a full-time job.

A whopping 46 percent of workers are underemployed — not a pretty statistic, according to PayScale:

Being underemployed is worse than frustrating; it’s dangerous. It can rob you of skills and training you fought hard to master, and set you back with lasting results for the remainder of your career; some studies suggest the financial effects of underemployment can last for a decade or more. Perhaps worse, underemployed workers are at an increased risk of depression, increased stress, and lowered self-esteem.

The study found that people with doctoral degrees are the least likely to be underemployed, while people with no college degree are the most likely to be underemployed:

  1. Some college education but no degree: 57 percent report being underemployed
  2. High-school diploma or GED: 52 percent
  3. Associate’s degree: 50 percent
  4. Bachelor’s degree (B.A./B.S.): 43 percent
  5. Master’s of business administration (MBA) degree: 41 percent
  6. Master of arts (M.A.) degree: 39 percent
  7. Juris doctor (J.D.) degree: 37 percent
  8. Doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree: 34 percent
  9. Medical doctor (M.D.) degree: 30 percent

The most commonly underemployed majors — each with underemployment rates of more than 50 percent — are:

  1. Physical education teaching (bachelor’s degree)
  2. Human services (bachelor’s)
  3. Illustration (bachelor’s)
  4. Criminal justice (master’s)
  5. Criminal justice (bachelor’s)

The most commonly underemployed jobs are:

  1. System support technician
  2. Front end supervisor
  3. Dog groomer and bather

What’s your take on these findings? Would you consider yourself underemployed? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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