Underemployed Americans are generally those who are not working to their desired capacity. Gallup considers respondents to be "underemployed" if they are either 1) unemployed or 2) employed part time (under 30 hours per week) and wish to be employed full time. The definition of unemployment used as a component of underemployment closely follows the government's definition; respondents are "unemployed" if they don't have a job, and are actively looking for work and are available to begin work. Gallup reports underemployment by state in the following ranges: 9.0%-11.9%, 12.0%-14.9%, 15.0%-17.9%, 18.0%-20.9%, and 21.0%-24.9%.
The nine states with underemployment rates of 21% or higher were relatively spread out across the country and include the nation's largest state, California, as well as Michigan and Nevada, which have been hit by downturns in the automotive and gambling industries, respectively. Twenty-two states cluster in the underemployment range of 18% to 20.9%, relatively close to the 18.9% national average.
View underemployment data for every state
Underemployment is related to, but does not necessarily follow the state-by-state patterns of, other economic measures. North Dakota, for example, is in the top 10 states of the union not only in terms of underemployment, but also on measures of economic confidence and job creation. California is in the bottom 10 states in terms of underemployment and in job creation, but is not among the worst states in terms of economic confidence.
Underemployment is a measure of the real impact of the job situation in the U.S., taking into account as it does workers who are out of and explicitly looking for work, as well as those who may be working part time but would like to work full time. The extent of underemployment in the U.S. varies widely by state, from relatively low levels in the energy states of North Dakota and Wyoming to quite high levels in a number of states, including the nation's largest, California.
Gallup did not measure underemployment at the state level in 2009, so it is not possible at this juncture to track state-by-state trends over time. Gallup, however, tracks daily underemployment at the national level in the United States and will provide year-over-year state-level trends in the future.