Unemployment and Underemployment Rates among Immigrant and Refugee Professionals: Profiles and Policy Issues for the Community Development

Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)



Department Name when Degree Awarded

Government and Economics

First Advisor

Derek R. Slagle

Department Affiliation

Government and Economics


Based on an interdisciplinary perspective, this research is essentially grounded in Community Development and Policy Analysis. It is a heuristic capacity assessment of the Community Capitals Framework to understanding the unemployment and underemployment rates of immigrant and refugee professionals in the United States. As two critical aspects of the labor market identified with contemporary waves of immigration in the United States, unemployment and underemployment matter. Quantitative and qualitative data collected through secondary data analysis approach for the three levels of government, Federal 2015-2016, the Commonwealth of Kentucky 2014-2016, and Fayette County 2010-2015, have confirmed both a high extent of unemployment and underemployment for immigrant and refugee professionals, and a lack of a specific and efficient policy to solving the problems. Moreover, the findings from the examination of a series of critical characteristics, including employment status, race or ethnicity, earnings, age, work status, educational attainment, have revealed a constant state of policy at the all three levels: A conservative policy through an incremental model that limits the integration of foreign-educated professionals in the labor market. However, a particular emphasis on Fayette County as a local level, reveals that the "brain waste" phenomenon is the real problem, as the foreign credentials are not taken into account. Therefore, a Comprehensive Policy Framework is the missing piece that needs to be activated, as the problem is institutional rather than of capitals.

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