Unemployment statistics are the common indicators used when discussing the recent recession. Yet underemployed and underpaid workers are representing a neglected class that still is feeling the sting of a stagnant economy.
The New York Times reports that the median hourly wage in 2011 was lower than it was 10 years ago. The article also states that the median American family in 2010 has less wealth than in the early 1990s, and that people with college degrees are forced to take jobs not related to their field of expertise.
How to localize:
Reach out to readers and ask for their stories: Have they worked without a raise for several years? Find workers who have college degrees but are struggling to find a job in a related field.
Document a day in the life of someone who is underemployed or underpaid. Follow them to work and visit them at home to gain a better understanding of the frustrations and struggles they may endure. Document the experience on video and use it to complement the print story. If the problem is a serious one in your community, make the project a series that runs once a week. Aggregate content and create a page online that allows readers to easily access and follow the series.
Collect numbers from the local chamber of commerce and data from the 2010 Census. How big of a concern is the underemployed and underpaid in your area? Use graphics to break out the information.
Report where struggling workers can seek assistance in terms of information, advice and guidance. Does the community college have classes or workshops to address the issue?