It's not so much the movies, her own apartment, or eating at restaurants that Loretta Warren has missed in the six months she's been without full-time work. It's the feeling of self worth.
"Mentally, you start feeling like you're deteriorating," said Warren, who graduated this June from Drew University in New Jersey and who bears the boredom of doing part-time clerical and secretarial jobs a few days a week because she can't get full-time professional work.
Warren calls herself unemployed. But the government says Warren is not. Warren is one of thousands of District college graduates, crafts people and homeless who are omitted from federal and local unemployment totals but are not fully employed. Their existence suggests that the jobless situation in the District and the nation is even worse than the official numbers would indicate.
Some of these people have part-time jobs because they can't get full-time work. Others are underemployed -- they have college degrees but only can find menial jobs. Still others are too discouraged by the job situation to even look for work. Professionals in Poverty
One new class of the underemployed is "the professional living in poverty," said Anne Ealy, manager of the Washington Urban League's job search center. "They're working full time, but being paid" part-time wages, she said.
In the District last year, more than 21,000 people either were working part time while wanting full-time work or were discouraged, which is nearly as many as the 29,000 persons officially counted as unemployed, according to U.S. Labor Department and local employment statistics.
While comparable figures exist across the country, the Washington area is especially susceptible to the part-time problem because workers are attracted by its reputation for providing large numbers of attractive professional jobs, said Rodney O'Neal, Urban League executive vice president, who compiles many of the statistics the city uses.
"Within the last three months, families that have come in here are highly skilled," Ealy said. "They are unemployed and may go off and do temporary work, secretarial, just to keep the family going."
Timothy Bernard, a computer programmer who has been looking for full-time work for about a month, said he moved to Washington from Norfolk because he had heard that salaries for blacks were good here.
However, "this place is the hardest city to get a job in than any other place I've been," Bernard said.
"It's not as bad as it could be," said Eddie Littlejohn, who retired six weeks ago from the Air Force and is looking for work in safety engineering. "I could be uneducated, unskilled and still trying to find a job."
Sar Levitan, director of the Center for Social Policy Studies at George Washington University, said the situation has deteriorated since the previous recession because the District labor market hasn't rebounded to pre-recession unemployment levels.
On average, part-time employes work 21 hours a week, "which means they live on half rations," although some part-time workers are second earners in a household, Levitan said.
"If an American full-time worker makes $330 a week, a person who works 21 hours gets $160 or so odd dollars," Levitan said. "He has the normal obligations other people have -- car, food, rent." Statistics Widely Used
Employment statistics measure the number of people working during the previous week based on a polling of households. Many economists use the employment statistics to gauge the ability of a local economy to fully employ its residents. But these numbers count as unemployed only people who are without work, are actively looking for jobs and are available for work, not those who have given up the search. Even a person who works only one day a week is considered employed.
Last year, while 29,000 people in the District were counted officially as unemployed, an additional 15,000 were working part time because full-time work wasn't available. Many local groups that advocate more assistance for the unemployed are particularly concerned because local and national unemployment statistics count these people as though they were full-time workers.
In addition, between 5,500 and 6,500 others are so discouraged by job prospects that they have stopped looking for work, according to Richard Groner, director of labor market information for the Department of Employment Services in the District.
Groner said that, in recent years, the number of discouraged workers has grown from about 1.8 percent to about 2 percent of the labor force, which was 320,000 last year. Discouraged Workers Left Out
Last year, the civilian unemployment rate in the District was 9 percent. If people working part time for economic reasons were considered, the unemployment rate would have been 11 percent, according to John Bregger of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And, if estimates of discouraged workers were included, the unemployment rate would have risen to 12.6 percent.
Nationally, the civilian unemployment rate last month was 7 percent. If people working part time were considered, the rate would have been 9.4 percent, the BLS said. If discouraged workers also had been considered, the rate between July and September would have been 10.7 percent, BLS said.
Official discouraged-worker figures for the District are not kept by the District or federal governments. The October unemployment rate was 8.7 percent in the District, compared with 3.0 percent in the suburbs.
Groner said that the District considers the part-time-worker problem to be serious. "Sure, we're concerned about the unofficial unemployment," Groner said.
"Real unemployment is higher than what we're reporting," but it is not as high as it was during the last recession, he said.
Many people work part time even when full-time jobs are available because they can't find a job they like, they may not have the skills for particular full-time employment, or babysitters are not available or affordable, Groner said.
Traveling from the District to the suburbs, where many blue-collar jobs are, is a problem for low-income workers, according to a recent study by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Travel Takes a Toll
Trips by bus and subway from Southeast or Northeast Washington to the suburbs take more than an hour each way, the study found. Additionally, traveling to these jobs is relatively expensive, costing more than $2 each way on a trip from the District to Gaithersburg during rush hour.
Underemployment can be a problem for governments, too, Levitan said. For example, nationally, 5.5 million people work part time but want full-time work, thus only contributing half of their potential to gross national product -- the nation's output of goods and services.
"That would mean not a crucial, but a sizable, dent in the deficit," Levitan said.
Additionally, localities lose tax revenues, higher output and consumption. Many of the underemployed still are eligible for food stamps, partial welfare and some other public assistance programs, although not officially counted as unemployed, Groner said. "On the resource side, they would have been a larger taxpayer, which would have increased revenues if they had worked full time," Groner said. Using Part-Timers Popular
Employers, however, enjoy many benefits of hiring part timers to do full-time work. They don't have the higher wages to pay and have lower Social Security contributions and unemployment insurance costs.
"It's a manifestation of loose labor markets," where there are many unemployed, Levitan said. "I wouldn't be surprised if in hotels or some restaurants in Washington , they have full-time workers in the summer during tourist season and then, after the tourists leave, they put on part-time work."
Ealy said she has heard of some cases in which the part-time working situation has become so bad it has led to physical abuse of spouses and children.
"It's hard to say, 'Go back to where you came from. There's nothing here,' " Ealy said.