in the United States

The degree of underemployment (see definition to the right) varies widely in the nation. The percents shown on this map indicate the extent to which the supply of high-skilled workers exceeds the demand. (Negative values indicate the supply of high-skilled workers is lower than demand.)

  • Degree of Underemployment
  • ≤ -13%
  • -13% to -6%
  • -6% to 0%
  • 1% to 5%
  • 5% to 11%
  • ≥ 11%

What Are Underemployed Workers?

An underemployed worker is someone who is working in a position below his or her level of qualifications - for example, someone with a master's degree who is working as a retail salesperson. Note, however, that this underemployment analysis compares and defines underemployment against the current national average. Therefore, what appears to be underemployment in some cases may reflect higher standards for occupations in certain regions - for example, an occupation usually held by a person with a bachelor's degree in one metro may be typically held by someone with a master's degree in another metro.


Chmura's underemployment analysis is a comparison of educational attainment supply and demand in a given labor market. The labor force of a region comprises workers at jobs within the region whether they be residents or commuters. Educational attainment supply is the number of individuals in the labor force with various educational attainment levels (high school graduate, 2-year college degree, etc). Demand is determined by the number and types of occupations currently employed at-place in the geographic area along with their typical educational makeup. Source data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the US Census Bureau are used in this analysis performed for 2016. Skill groupings are defined as follows: low skill - highest educational attainment of a high school diploma, equivalent, or lower; medium skill - highest attainment of a 2-year college degree, certificate, or some college and no degree; high skill - bachelor's degree or higher.

U.S. Metropolitan Areas Ranked by Underemployment

The metropolitan areas are ranked according to which have the largest surpluses of high-skilled workers. The percents shown here are the percentage point differences between supply and demand - positive numbers indicate supply exceeds demand. Workers are classified into three categories according to their highest educational attainment: "high" - bachelor's degree or higher; "medium" - associate's degree or some college; and "low" - high school graduate or lower.

Rank MSA Low Med High
Source: Chmura Economics & Analytics. Data as of 2016q4.

About Chmura

Chmura Economics & Analytics is a provider of applied economic consulting, quantitative research, and data solutions requiring the integration of advanced economic analysis.