Nearly Half of Working New Yorkers Are Underemployed, Report Finds

Nearly Half of Working New Yorkers Are Underemployed, Report Finds

Nearly half of working-age New Yorkers who have jobs are underemployed and working fewer hours than they would like, a report from the Robin Hood Foundation finds.

Based on the organization's Poverty Tracker, which it created and maintains in partnership with Columbia University, the report, Shortchanged: Underemployment in New York City (17 pages, PDF), found that 45 percent of survey respondents under the age of 65 who were working full- or part-time, or 1.6 million people, said they would like to work more hours. The survey also found higher rates of underemployment among New Yorkers who are working but living below the poverty line (63 percent vs. 40 percent of those living above the poverty line), workers earning less than $15 per hour (65 percent vs. 34 percent), those without a college degree (57 percent vs. 29 percent), and those who were born outside the United States (53 percent vs. 39 percent). In addition, it found that Latino/a (58 percent) and African-American workers (56 percent) were more likely to be underemployed than their white counterparts. Among the city's five boroughs, rates of underemployment ranged from 34 percent in Manhattan to 57.7 percent in the Bronx.

Among all survey respondents, 34 percent were fully employed, 4 percent were voluntarily working part-time, 31 percent were underemployed, 7 percent were unemployed, and 24 percent were not in the labor force. The report found that the underemployed were nearly twice as likely (33 percent vs. 19 percent) to face a severe material hardship — running out of money between paychecks, facing food insecurity, having utilities cut off due to unpaid bills, staying in a shelter or other temporary housing, and/or not being able to afford health care. The survey results, the report concludes, suggest that for many New Yorkers, even a full-time job is not enough to enable them to meet their economic needs.

"These new results underscore the fact that that low-income New Yorkers don't need just any job," said Steven Lee, managing director of income security at Robin Hood. "What they need are good jobs that will provide enough hours, pay a living wage, and help them move out poverty."