April 2014
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TD Magazine

Word Wiz: Mal-employment

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

As if English majors needed less encouragement to continue with their degrees, new statistics show an increase in "mal-employment" rates among college graduates, especially those with liberal arts degrees. Nearly four out of 10 graduates between the ages of 20 and 24 are mal-employed, meaning that they are working in menial jobs that do not require a college degree.

Mal-employment is nearly synonymous with underemployment, which simply means working below one's level of ability. Finding a good job after graduation has been difficult since the 2001 recession. Those with degrees in humanities and the social sciences fare especially poorly: 52 percent of these graduates are mal-employed compared with 20 percent of recent engineering graduates, according to Inside Higher Ed.


Taking a job that underutilizes one's skills can prove to be a financial setback with long-term economic consequences. Mal-employed graduates enter the workforce on a lower wage scale than their appropriately employed peers, which results in an income discrepancy that could add up to millions of dollars over their lifetimes.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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