photo: inoneear via Flickr

There are roughly 25M to 30M Un and Underemployed people in the United States today. Some of the millions show up in the base statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics while other groups do not. Among the groups that do not show are people who have been declared “self-employed” as well as new college grads, yet both groups are full of people trying to find gainful employment in professional fields.

Yesterday (Monday, May 9) Business Week (via Yahoo) had this article on how wonderful things are for the 2011 new college grads:

The class of 2011 is enjoying the best job market for new grads since the 2008 financial crisis, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. It’s being driven by gains in finance, energy, and technology, says Edwin W. Koc, NACE’s research chief, who foresees younger workers filling a backlog of jobs after two years of stagnant hiring. 

In Silicon Valley, postings have doubled from two years ago at technology career website operator Dice Holdings (NYSE:DHX – News). “It’s quite a stunning comeback,” says Lance Choy, director of the career development center at Stanford University. Postings on Stanford’s online job board for full-time positions surged 36 percent to 1,900 in the fourth quarter of last year compared with a year earlier.

Sounds wonderful for those new grads, right? Well, not so fast there Bunky. A few weeks ago, USA Today had a similar article but while also mentioning the percent increase of new jobs for new grads this year, also let slip the unpleasant reality:

The increase in open positions means employers have half as many applicants per job now than at this time last year: 21.1 applicants this year vs. 40.5 in 2010. 

Yes, it is a good thing that the percent of new jobs available to new grads is up but that good news has to be tempered by the reality that there are still so many applicants for each job. My SWAG is that the 2011 applicants are competing with the 2010, 2009, and 2008 applicants as well.

TheGrio had this article yesterday on job prospects for teenagers this summer, especially minority teens. Prognosis? Not good (which given the realities facing all groups is no surprise):

This summer, the Center for Labor Market Studies anticipates that only one in four teens between 16 and 19 will have employment. This means about 12 million of the nation’s young people will be idle. Without work, many of these teens will waste three months being non-productive or, worse, involved in dangerous or criminal activities. 

Low-income youth and minority youth of all income levels are far less likely to obtain employment than whites. In June 2010, black teens of all socioeconomic levels had an employment rate of only 15.2 percent, making them 53 percent less likely to work than white teens. Low income black teens fared far worse, with only 9 percent of them employed. Although Hispanic youth were the most likely minority group to work, they still lagged behind whites. Black male teenagers living in urban communities are the least likely to obtain summer employment. They are also the ones most at risk for engaging in perilous activities due to lack of connection to positive summer opportunities. The teens who need employment and stand to gain the most from the experience are the least likely to get it.

Teens who cannot obtain employment are at a disadvantage. Summer employment is known to reap several benefits for youth, particularly low-income youth, including academic gains in mathematics and reading, greater attachment to the labor market, higher earnings in early adulthood, and decreased involvement in violent or criminal activities. Many low-income youth also use the earnings from summer jobs to supplement family income, to purchase necessary clothing and school supplies for the upcoming school year, and to support their recreational activities that parents could not otherwise afford.

The NY Times Economix blog had this yesterday morning on unemployed mothers:

Yesterday, many of the nation’s mothers enjoyed roses, breakfast in bed, donations in their name to needy families elsewhere in the world or other treats. But plenty of mothers needed something that their families couldn’t give them – jobs. 

“Work first!” was the rallying cry behind sweeping changes to public-assistance programs for single parents enacted 15 years ago, with the establishment of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF (pronounced TAN-if). So what happens when paying jobs aren’t available?

Single mothers are still more likely to be employed than married mothers, for the obvious reason that they depend more heavily on their own earnings. But it’s harder for them to find jobs, in part because they find it harder to make child-care arrangements.

Unemployment rates among single mothers have long surpassed those among married men and women. In 2010, their unemployment rate averaged 14.6 percent, compared with 6.8 percent among married men and 6.3 percent among married mothers.

People in my age group (over 50) are also caught n the jobless bind. I’m sure most folks in my age group have heard variants on “you’re over qualified so I know you wouldn’t be happy in this position.” Sunday’s NY Times had this article on the “etiquette” of being over qualified for the work being performed. I’ll just say that the recommendations being made sound like the “happy face” forced smiles that inflicted many in the ’70s. (As a side note, I knew I was in trouble in 1977 when I received my first assignment in the Air Force to Wurtsmith AFB, MI and the initial package I received called the base the “Happy Face Base” – the longest 15 months in my life then ensued).

Today’s USA Today has a couple of articles, while not specifically employment related, do show the overall fall out that accompanies the un and underemployment. First up is this one on people needing food assistance:

Hunger has been a challenge in the U.S., even when the economy is running on all cylinders. 

At the end of the economic boom in 2007, 13 million people or about 11% of all households were considered “food insecure,” the official term used by the government to define one’s inability to access an adequate amount of nutritious food at times during the year.

…snip…

When the recession took hold in 2008, the number of Americans who were considered food insecure spiked to 17 million, the highest level recorded since the Department of Agriculture (USDA) began monitoring food security in 1995. It has remained close to that level since — the 2009 number, released last November, was 17.4 million.

…snip…

Just one-third of people who qualify for a major federal nutrition program are currently enrolled to receive their eligible benefits, according to the USDA.

Finally, there’s this second USA Today article on unpaid hospital bills. Again, while not directly relating to un and underemployment, it shows where people are struggling in the over all economy:

WASHINGTON — Uninsured Americans — including those with incomes well above the poverty line — leave hospitals with unpaid tabs of up to $49 billion a year, according to a government study released today. 

On average, uninsured families pay only about 12% of their hospital bills in full. Families with incomes above 400% of the poverty level, or about $88,000 a year for a family of four, pay about 37% of their hospital bills in full, according to the Department of Health and Human Services study.

…snip…

Researchers also found that most uninsured people have “virtually no” savings and that about a third have no financial assets.

The vast majority of people in the US are living on the edge. They miss one or two or three paychecks and the catastrophe is no longer a myth but a reality.

But hey, we’re all rugged individualists and budding entrepreneurs so we just need to buck up and pull up those bootstraps right? Right?

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy