31 percent of Americans are either underemployed or unemployed

An overwhelming 31 percent of Americans describe their current employment situation as being either underemployed or unemployed.

In addition, 34 percent of those who described themselves as being underemployed working full time say that they have jobs below their skill level.

The new report from Mintel reveals that around 7 percent of Americans who work full-time have had to choose jobs that are well below their skill level.

17 percent reported that they are not making as much today as they were a couple of years ago, this rate was particularly high among adults between the age of 45 and 54 – when people should normally be at their peak earning power.

Fiona O’Donnell, lifestyles and leisure analyst at Mintel, said that “unemployment and underemployment are driven by a number of factors including the rate of economic growth, job creation, the amount of government spending, structural changes in the labor force, and skills, occupational or locational mismatches,”

She added:

“It may be easy to dismiss these adults as ‘down and out,’ but the millions of underemployed represent a market opportunity. Although their earnings power may be compromised, they still need goods and services. Companies that offer good value and treat these consumers with respect can reap the rewards over the long run, netting a loyal customer.”

The majority of Americans have the same attitude towards debt. 69 percent of all respondents said that they believe it is very risky (and dangerous) to go into debt. In fact, according to the latest COUNTRY Financial Security Index® survey, most Americans feel that their financial security has not improved, despite  economic recovery beginning around mid-2009.

A relatively high number of respondents (84 percent) understood how to manage debt responsibly, saying that it is vital to pay off more than the minimum amount when paying off debts and 81 percent said that it is necessary to make sacrifices to make debt payments.

Fiona O’Donnell concluded that properly targeting the under- and unemployed in marketing could provide many long term loyal customers:

“Marketing to the under- and unemployed requires tact and sensitivity in order not to remind those in this situation that they are living on the edge or to make them feel less deserving than others. The likely reward for providing products and services of value during this time of need is a loyal customer for the long run.

In addition to using traditional and online advertising (judiciously to lower marketing expenses and pass the savings on to the consumer) and social media, the focus of marketing attention should be on providing promotional pricing.

The under- and unemployed are highly price sensitive and seek out sales. Coupons, sales circulars (physical or digital), special offers, deals on Groupon, Facebook, and other deal sites and creating value brands can all be effective strategies.”