Underemployment affects Texoma

By: Dia Wall Email
By: Dia Wall Email

DENISON, TX - The unemployment rate means millions of Americans are out of work, but the Labor Department also issues another statistic with the jobs report; the number of underemployed people in the U.S. Those who have part-time jobs, but want full-time work.

"Walk about 20 miles in my shoes."

Gail Banks worked with a major insurance company for almost 30 years. But today, she is one of the 8.8 million Americans who are underemployed; working part-time but looking for full-time jobs.

"I'm unable to make my rent and pay my utilities, and I'm having to move out and go live with my mother," Banks said.

Her story is a common one in Texoma. Jonathan Voigt wakes up at 4:30 a.m. six days a week to make it to a local temp agency.

"You show up at 5:30 every morning, sign in on a sheet and if you get lucky enough you get to go out on a job everyday," said Voigt.

Voigt said there wasn't enough work for him to get a job today, and on days he lands work it's usually minimum wage, which yields 50 to 80 dollars, hardly enough for him to make ends meet.

"Yes we see that and of course it's going to happen more when the economy is a little bit volatile as it is right now," said Bob Rhoden, Director of External Relations for Workforce Solutions Texoma. He said underemployment is not a new statistic. "We've known for years that we have a significant amount of underemployment. Hang in there and continue to work that part time job. One thing I always tell people is a part-time job may lead to your next full-time job."

For Banks, who's now working part-time for half of what she once made, the statistics mean very little. "Sure they can say it's nine-percent, it's this percent. Get down to the level of the people. Find out what it's really about."

Voigt said, "there's a lot of good, hard-working people that need to work. I've worked with several people and I myself have done just about anything you can imagine."

About 2.6 million people have also stopped looking for work altogether. Add that to the number of unemployed and underemployed, and that's more than 16 percent off all working-age Americans.

For more information about Workforce Solutions Texoma, or jobs in Texas, links are attached.

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