Thursday, November 11, 2010


When what you do for a living makes you want to kill yourself.
I re-edit text that has already been edited in India; I am so malemployed.
-Urban Dictionary

I heard this word the other day, listening to The Takeaway on WNYC, while getting ready for work.  This, gentle readers, was not a word that your MatchGirl had heard before.  Apparently, according to reporter Beth Kobliner, it's a word coined in the 1970s, during that decade's high unemployment levels.  And with unemployment rates, on record, at nearly 10% country-wide - and actual unemployment teetering at closer to 20% - because the record does not take into account those people whose unemployment insurance has run out and those people who are no longer actively searching for jobs - what is there, realistically, out there, besides malemployment?

While I may have never heard the term before, being malemployed is something with which your MatchGirl is very very familiar.  And, while I studied art and that is the kind of things that educated artists often are - waiting tables, working retail, pouring coffee - all while having fancy degrees, it is not something that most people should be.  It is not something that most people expect to be.

The word malemployed is interesting to me, though, in its difference to underemployed.  I've been using them interchangeably for months upon months.  But they are two distinct things.  Underemployment -a term that I, and many like me, have been using to define both those people who are working jobs that are "below" (for lack of a better word) them and those people who are working, but not enough - refers simply to the fact that the person does not have enough work.  It doesn't matter what that work is.  Malemployment, on the other hand, defines those people who are working, but are working at jobs well under their eduction or career level.

When I was unemployed, most of what I thought about was getting a job and, at the beginning, dear ones, getting a job that was better and more interesting than the one from which I was laid off.  Towards the end of my unemployment, dear readers, is when your MatchGirl started giving serious thought to giving in to malemployment - to taking a job that would be well below her education and her work experience, simply to sustain - barely at that - some semblance of life.  Because at that point a job - ANY JOB - would have done.  I'm glad that things did not come to that, but I am also very aware that they could have very easily gone down that path.

For those of you unlucky enough to be among the malemployed, some links you might find interesting:

Our soul-crushingly indistinguishable jobs are the Darwinistic extension of Henry Ford’s assembly line.  Our jobs are interchangeable parts designed to be quick, cheap and easy to replace even by an HR person.  All to keep labor costs down and drive profits ever higher to satisfy investors and Jim Cramer’s Mad Money crew.  And we know why we stay – we need the money and there is nothing else out there.
Please Fire Me

Malemployment represents the inability of a college graduate to find a job that effectively uses the knowledge, skills and abilities acquired in college and relegates them to employment in low-skill and generally low-wage occupations that don’t utilize college-level proficiencies. Since the skills of the malemployed remain largely unused by employers, they experience considerable wage losses.
The New England Board of Higher Education

Recent college grads are facing underemployment  or “malemployment,” meaning that they are working at jobs that do not require a college degree.  Professor of Economics at Northeastern University Andrew Sum estimates that during the first half of 2010, more than 50 percent of young B.A.-holders were employed at jobs not requiring a college degree.
Edu In Review

What do you think, gentle ones, are the jobs you are finding - whether ones you've take on or ones your applying to in dire hopes they'll call you back -do these job represent the crisis of malemployment in the country today?  Do you think there is anything that any of us can do about it?


  1. Wow, I can really relate to this! (unfortunately) I was malemployed for several years before I went to business I have an MBA and am "overqualified" for everything despite the facts that there are no jobs available. I just spent a few hours emailing contacts from temp agencies only to find that most of the email addresses were no longer valid. Sorry to hear about your situation, but I'm glad you started a blog so I have something to read:)

    If you feel like checking mine out, it's


  2. I am trapped when it comes to finding a job. I am considered either over or under qualified it seems for everything I apply for. I am mid-career, not just out of college and layed off as an educated professional from the construction industry. There are currently no jobs at all in the sector I came from. I find myself applying for jobs that are "beneath" me and then are turned down because of being overqualified. I am currently retraining for an industry that would pay about 35% less than what I was making before. I don't know what the answer is, but I need to find something that will help me survive.

  3. The answer is simple get rid of any govt interference in the market. The price of education will fall to around $1,800 / year and re-education can be prompt and respond to economic conditions without creating a debt bubble.