employed at a job that does not fully use one's skills or abilities.
employed only part-time when one is available for full-time work.
not utilized fully.


underemployed workers collectively.

Origin of underemployed

First recorded in 1905–10; under- + employ + -ed2
Related formsun·der·em·ploy·ment, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for under-employed

Contemporary Examples of under-employed

  • Add to that fact so many underwater homes and under-employed workers and it seems callous to crow about improvements.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Better Off Than When, Exactly?

    John Avlon

    September 4, 2012

Historical Examples of under-employed

  • We talk a great deal about the unemployed, but the evil of the under-employed is the tap-root of unemployment.

    Liberalism and the Social Problem

    Winston Spencer Churchill

British Dictionary definitions for under-employed



not fully or adequately employed
Derived Formsunderemployment, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for under-employed

1908, "not used to optimum capacity," originally in reference to working persons, from under + past participle of employ.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper