December 19, 2017, New York, NY – The newest report from the Robin Hood Poverty Tracker “Shortchanged: Underemployment in New York City,” finds that underemployment is disturbingly high in New York City. The Poverty Tracker, created by Robin Hood, the largest poverty-fighting organization in New York, in partnership with Columbia University, is a long-term survey of poverty and well-being in the five boroughs.

The report evaluates how many New Yorkers are underemployed, defined as workers who are working fewer hours than they would like. While the national unemployment rate has shrunk by more than half since its peak at 10 percent in 2016, the Poverty Tracker finds that too many working New Yorkers don’t have enough work and are still struggling to make ends meet.

Highlights of the findings include:

  • 45 percent of working New Yorkers under the age of 65 are underemployed. That’s over 1.6 million people – more than the entire population of Philadelphia.
  • 63 percent of workers living in poverty are underemployed, while 40 percent of workers living above the poverty line are underemployed.
  • 58 percent of workers in the Bronx are underemployed, compared to 34 percent of workers in Manhattan.
  • The underemployed are 14 percentage points more likely to face a severe material hardship (compared to fully-employed New Yorkers). Many of these workers reporting underemployment also report currently working a full-time job, suggesting that for many New Yorkers, even a full-time job is not enough to help them meet their economic needs.

“These new results underscore the fact that that low-income New Yorkers don’t need just any job. What they need are good jobs that will provide enough hours, pay a living wage, and help them move out poverty,” said Steven Lee, managing director of Income Security at Robin Hood.

As part of its poverty-fighting work, Robin Hood helps New Yorkers secure employment in a range of fields, including in booming sectors like healthcare and technology. The organization also empowers entrepreneurs by funding microfinance loans to low-income individuals.

“We are just beginning to uncover the depth of underemployment in New York City,” said Christopher Wimer, project director for the Poverty Tracker study at Columbia University’s Population Research Center. “Despite popular narratives, the Poverty Tracker results suggest that many poor New Yorkers are eager for more work, but struggle to find it.”

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