The St. Louis Beacon recently began Job Talk, a series highlighting the effects of unemployment in the St. Louis region. These pieces feature economic insights from local experts alongside a heavy dose of personal stories from struggling residents.
A recent Job Talk report describes the situation of a local resident who falls into the category of “underemployed.” This distinction applies to any individual who has a job, but it’s in one way or another not adequate. This includes workers who are forced to work part-time instead of full-time or who have resigned to taking low-skill, low-pay positions not suited to their experience level. These individuals are not counted in the unemployment statistic more commonly reported in the news. Current underemployment is estimated to be 17%, a whole 7 points higher than the unemployment rate.
The article illustrates how many people in this situation are in dire straights. Though they have some source of income, it’s often only a fraction of their previous salaries and not adequate to cover their expenses. The man in this article works 50 hours a week, yet has undergone bankruptcy and is facing foreclosure. His struggles have taken a toll: “It’s brutal. It is just a crushing, crushing depression. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”
The report brings to light an important, though not uplifting, truth surrounding the economic downturn. Many people who are able to escape unemployment have found themselves crippled by the recession. The economic downturn has had complex, far-reaching consequences, and they’re not easily captured by any statistic.
We’ll continue to follow the Beacon’s Job Talk series and update our blog as new reports are posted. You can read all articles from the series here.