Unemployment versus Underemployment

An Orlando Sentinel article released last week contained grim, but perhaps not unexpected, news about the current unemployment situation in Florida.

Sentinel writer Jim Stratton explains that Florida’s unemployment rate has now hit 11.8%, the highest rate in nearly 35 years. To put that percentage in perspective, Stratton reminds his readers that this statistic means approximately one million people are out of work.

And here is the really bad news: even that one million mark does not represent the full extent of the problem. In addition to those who have been counted as unemployed, an untold number of people have either stopped looking for work out of discouragement and countless more are “underemployed,” meaning they have been forced to work part-time because of the recession.

At the Coalition, we have noticed that many of our clients are working fewer hours than would be needed to sustain them in the community. For individuals and families who are already living on the edge being cut down to part-time employment or having to accept a lower-paying job is often enough to throw them off track, even forcing many into homelessness. These people are lucky to be employed in some capacity, but still suffer from a significantly lower level of income than they need to make ends meet.

In response to the news of rising unemployment, Florida’s political leaders (see list in the Orlando Sentinel article) have promised to continue focusing on job creation. For the sake of the many clients we now serve who are either unemployed or underemployed, we hope that they will be true to their word.

Visit our website to learn how the Coalition provides educational opportunities and job training to clients.