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Realistic Employment Workshops: Terms Defined: "Mis-Employed" and "Under-Employed"

Updated on December 8, 2011

Many thanks to the inquisitive fellow Hubbers who asked for more detailed information about our Realistic Employment (RE) Workshops. I see no reason why we should not publish the details on HubPages and make them available to interested Hubbers all over the world.

Unsuccessful employment has, indeed, become a world-wide issue today, but we engage here in a two-way street of mutual participation. Just as we aspire to offer helpful employment information and advice to anyone anywhere with an employment challenge, so we also want and need to hear suggestions and concepts from you, our readers, wherever you might live.

(The Hub article, "Realistic Employment Workshops; Part 1: Introduction," outlines our basic program and rationale. Further hubs describe how anyone interested in employment issues can work directly with us, and/or how you can organize your own local workshop with ongoing support.)

Definition of "unemployed," "mis-employed" and "under-employed"?

When speaking with each other about the various kinds of people unsuccessfully employed, we have found it best to use the three terms "unemployed," "mis-employed," and "under-employed" not sociologically (as objectively defined demographic categories) but clinically (as subjectively stated to us by the individual involved).

1. Unemployed: actively and passively. The various governments, of course, count people as "unemployed" according to specific criteria that usually include (a) entitled to receive unemployment benefits from the government (which had collected unemployment insurance payments from the previous employer), and (b) actively seeking new employment that meets their specifications. The RE workshop distinguishes between roughly the same two categories of "unemployed" (except, of course, without reference to any benefits from insurance!).

a. We call "actively unemployed" the person who has no job but wants one enough to let people know about it, and who would accept if offered an appropriate job. Example: an unskilled person not employed and not aware of available local jobs, like the ones at the local suburban Subway or discount store, but would go apply upon learning of them (and/or others like them), because right now, getting a job is their first priority.

b. We call "passively unemployed" the person who has no job but is not actively looking for one, for whatever reason. Example: an unskilled person not employed who may or may not be aware of available local jobs, but would not go apply upon learning of them, because right now, getting a job is not their first priority (for whatever reason).

2. Mis-employed. An employed person may have a job they strongly dislike (for whatever reason, perhaps low pay, dislike the work, see no future in it, etc.) and want help finding something else ("better" in their terms). Example: a person who cries out, "In high school I wanted to go learn how to be a nurse, but now I'm stuck chopping lettuce in a suburban Subway, or stocking shelves in a discount store, 20 miles from the nearest hospital! I am mis-erable in this job, but what can I do about it?!"

3. An under-employed person is also employed and unhappy, but for a different reason. He or she may, for example, be in the right place (the vicinity of their highest goals) but feel stuck beneath the level of what they, and perhaps others, consider their full talent and potential. Example: A woman who always wanted to own and manage her own independent restaurant, but is currently stuck chopping lettuce in a suburban Subway, or stocking shelves at a local discount store, and doesn't know how to advance herself from point A to point B.

Copyright (c) Dec. 2011 by The Max Havlick School, a project of New World Community Enterprises, Inc., Villa Park, IL 60181-1938 (30 min. from O'Hare Airport). For more information, you may contact Max through HubPages.


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    • chelseacharleston profile image


      7 years ago

      Great new info, thanks :)

    • Max Havlick profile imageAUTHOR

      Max Havlick 

      7 years ago from Villa Park, Illinois

      Thanks, Steve, for the comment. I hope you don't also, but unless you're made out of some special magic material I know not of, you probably will.

      It's all about accurate discernment of one's self as you experience the world outside, and finding your optimum place in it, which for most people takes some time. One great analyst of this intersection was Erik Erikson, "Identity: Youth and Crisis" (1968), and brilliantly illustrated in psychological biographies "Young Man Luther" and "Gandhi's Truth."

      By the way, as a HS senior, you belong in college full time, not looking for anything other than a part-time job nearby. Plenty of college money available for young men like you.

    • Steve Orion profile image

      Steve Orion 

      7 years ago from Tampa, Florida

      Thanks for the info, Max! As a student about to enter the job market, I hope I don't have many of the same stuggles many others do.


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