This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

February 6, 2002

Misemployment

Most unemployed are out of work for reasons beyond their control, though some do choose to refrain from working for certain periods of time. They may be in school, trying something on their own, or just want a break from working. We have indicated our expectation that a large proportion of people who are unemployed will soon have jobs again.

Those who do have jobs are described as being "employed." Definitions for this word are universally accepted.

Another word is creeping into our vocabulary. Misemployment. The term is not even listed in many dictionaries. Where we do find the word, the definition for "misemploy" is shown as wrong or mistaken employment. Use of this term is creeping into the lexicon of descriptors in the employment market.

We suggest that to be misemployed is to be working, but in a job or career that really does not fit for you. Research suggests more than half, perhaps as many as 80-percent, of workers are in jobs for which their personality and interests really aren't well-matched. People are in those jobs because someone offered them an opportunity, or they believed it was a stepping-stone to the kind of job they really want. In some cases, workers are stuck in these jobs because they do not know how to escape . . . or where to go if they "could" get out of the uncomfortable job.

Over the years, a great number of people have slipped into misemployment because they did not know how to find the right kind of job or employment opportunity for them, yet they needed a job. It was not until the late 1990s that workers began to realize they had choices. Just about the time we would have expected them to begin learning more about themselves, evaluating job opportunities, and making significant life changes, the economy slowed down and the atrocities of September 11 altered employment thinking.

As economies expand again, we forecast that more people will seek jobs that are more consistent with their personal preferences. Misemployment will drop as people assert themselves to control their own careers.


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