Underemployed adds thousands to Oregon jobless figure



EUGENE, Ore. — A measure of employment that takes into account people who have given up looking for work or who can’t find full-time work shows about a sixth of Oregon’s workforce out of full-time jobs last year.

Figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show 173,300 Oregonians were unemployed in 2012. Another 167,800 were underemployed or unemployed but not counted, the Eugene Register-Guard reported.

Combining the two categories made for a rate of unemployment or underemployment of 17.2 percent — almost double the official jobless rate that is the most common indication of the status of the labor force.

The Oregon numbers are evidence of a weight bearing down on the state’s sluggish economic recovery, as part-time workers curtail spending, University of Oregon economist Tim Duy said.

“This is another indication of the pressure on household income and spending that persists even though the recession officially ended long ago,” Duy said.

The bulk of the underemployed or uncounted people — 139,600 — were looking for full-time jobs but able to find only part-time work, according to the bureau.

The bureau figures don’t show exactly how many hours per week the involuntary part-timers are working, but Duy said they do show that those are people who have the skills to get hired.

“They’re employed now,” he said, but the economy isn’t producing enough jobs to provide them with full-time work.

The corresponding national figure that includes underemployed and discouraged workers is 14.7 percent.