Updated: Oct 30, 2020
first published in The Washington Post
We all have heard stories of newly minted college graduates working as baristas or selling clothes at Gap. It’s what economists call underemployment: people doing jobs for which they are overqualified. Generally, however, we dismiss the phenomenon as a relic of the recession or a short-term problem affecting a small number of graduates who will find their footing soon.
But underemployment may be far more widespread than we have imagined — affecting up to 43 percent of recent graduates, according to a report. This unprecedented analysis of 4 million unique résumés examines the scope and impact of underemployment on graduates in the years that follow college. It turns out that underemployment can mark the first steps to a permanent professional detour — more than a speed bump on the journey to a prosperous career.