Roughly one in five Hispanic and black workers are “underemployed” (18.9 percent of Hispanic workers and 22.4 percent of black workers). The “underemployment rate” is a more comprehensive measure of slack in the labor market than the official unemployment rate, which counts only jobless workers who report that they are actively seeking work. The underemployment rate includes workers who meet this official definition of unemployment as well as: 1) those who are working part time but want and are available to work full time (“involuntary” part timers), and 2) those who want and are available to work and have looked for work in the last year but have given up actively seeking work (“marginally attached” workers).
The figure shows the underemployment rate by race and ethnicity. As with unemployment, racial and ethnic minorities have much higher underemployment rates than white workers. One substantive difference between underemployment by race/ethnicity and unemployment by race/ethnicity is that Hispanic underemployment tends to be fairly close to black underemployment in periods of high overall underemployment. (In comparison, the unemployment rate of Hispanics tends to fall roughly in the middle of the black and white unemployment rates.) This difference arises because Hispanic workers are more likely to fall into the “involuntarily part time” category.