Prameela Nagaraj holds a bachelor's degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton. Since graduating in 1997, she has held regulatory paralegal positions at UBS and Merrill Lynch. But, you won't find her working for a financial services firm now. Nagaraj starts this week as a seasonal salesperson at a Coach Outlet Store in New Jersey.
"This job is from November third until January fifth. The day of the interview it was made clear this was only seasonal work. But, I hope this job opens a door for me... after a long time of looking and being frustrated. " says Nagaraj.
Nagaraj isn't alone.
A Pew Research Center study finds more than half of people who find work after layoffs say they are overqualified, even though some also say they're grateful for the work.
"A lot of what we're seeing is cyclical. It's a cycle that will play out over several years. We've seen a huge increase in unemployment at all age and education levels. The more education people have, the less likely they were to become unemployed over the last three years. But, even the most highly educated workers have seen big increases in unemployment," says MF Global Chief Economist Jim O'Sullivan
The National Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is due to report its October payroll figures on Friday, finds some 17,000,0000 Americans with college degrees are accepting jobs that the government says is below their education levels. According to the bureau's data, 22% of customer service representatives, 13% of waiters and waitresses, and 16% of telemarketers have four-year college degrees.
O'Sullivan adds, "There is a big gap right now in those unemployed and available to work and the number of job openings. But, I think the gaps have already been closing in the past year."
The Conference Board reports job openings advertised online rose by 113,700 last month versus an increase of 59,900 in September. But, the board finds there are still 10.5 million more unemployed workers than online advertised vacancies.
O'Sullivan says many people have moved down the jobs scale just to get a job—because the perception is that it's easier to get a job with a job.
And, that is exactly Nagaraj's strategy — hoping her Coach seasonal sales position leads to one that's in the bag for a long time.
Stephanie is Squawk Box producer and senior NetNet retail correspondent. Follow her on twitter @StephLandsman
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