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Report Wages, Incomes, and Wealth. Download PDF. Press release. The labor market continues to recover, but a stubbornly high rate of underemployment persists as more than five million Americans are working part-time for economic reasons U. BLS a; b. Not only are many of this type of underemployed worker, by definition, scheduled for fewer hours, days, or weeks than they prefer to be working, the daily timing of their work schedules can often be irregular or unpredictable.
This both constrains consumer spending and complicates the daily work lives of such workers, particularly those navigating through nonwork responsibilities such as caregiving. This variability of work hours contributes to income instability and thus, adversely affects not only household consumption but general macroeconomic performance. The plight of employees with unstable work schedules is demonstrated here with new findings, using General Social Survey GSS data.
These findings as well as key findings from other research are highlighted below. Employees who work irregular shift times, in contrast with those with more standard, regular shift times, experience greater work-family conflict, and sometimes experience greater work stress. Specifically, community action groups and labor unions that have witnessed the deleterious effects of irregular work schedules on people and their families have spearheaded efforts to propose and adopt legislation at local and federal levels.
As the U. In policy discussions, however, the problems of unstable or irregular and often insufficient work hours remain a layer beneath the more surface tragedy of persistent and long-term unemployment. The of workers in the U. BLS a. Such jobs are disproportionately found in the service occupations and in the retail and wholesale trade and services industries, such as hospitality and leisure, professional and business services, and health services.
One key source of underemployment is that at least periodically, employees are scheduled for fewer hours than they prefer to be working, in days or weeks that are not necessarily regular or predictable. Thus, the consequent experience of involuntary part-time employment not only constrains the incomes of those workers, but often makes the daily work lives of those individuals unpredictable and more stressful.
Interestingly, there is also a nontrivial proportion of workers who actually would prefer to work fewer hours even if it means proportionally less income. This report will inform recently proposed reforms of the Fair Labor Standards Act FLSA with evidence from recent surveys regarding which workers report being underemployed and which jobs tend to exhibit such irregular work schedules, including on-call schedules, split shifts, rotating shifts, and required overtime work.
It then presents evidence regarding the adverse effects on workers who work such irregular and on-call work schedules, in contrast to those with more regular shift times. The outcomes of interest are work-family conflict and work stress. Finally, it will close by surveying various voluntary arrangements that might constitute model practices or minimum standards including advance notice for setting and changing work schedules; payment for reporting time and split-shifting if not 130 lunch break meet up line with a minimum advance-notice time; and in special cases, a preference for adding work hours for those employees who explicitly request such hours, reducing the incidence and extent of underemployment and in the process, perhaps the incidence and extent of overemployment among other workers.
Work times are most irregular for those hourly workers on part-time employment arrangements Zeytinoglu et al. Moreover, it is becoming recognized that when work hours and schedules generally are variable, it undermines elements of well-being, such as sleep time. Researchers and advocates are calling for laws and regulations that could help ease the incidence, frequency, or 130 lunch break meet up of having too few or unpredictable work hours. This section summarizes evidence from the literature regarding which workers report being underemployed and which workers tend to experience fluctuating work schedules and their economic impacts.
Such workers have less income than other workers Glauber Among mothers who currently work full-time, many 44 percent would rather be working part-time. However, interestingly, an almost equally high proportion of mothers who are not at all employed currently would prefer to be working part-time plus another 22 percent who regard working full-time as ideal. This suggests a kind of hidden underemployment, in addition to those who work part-time but desire full-time workweeks.
Also, interestingly, the share of mothers preferring full-time work increased sharply between and from 20 percent to 32 percent.
This likely reflects a response to the Great Recession and consequent stagnation in household income. Furthermore, another recent survey, by Working Mother magazine, of only men, found that almost 60 percent of working fathers would choose part-time work if they could still have a meaningful and productive career, only slightly higher than men without children at home.
A recent poll of 1, U. Over half the sample, 52 percent, would see Appendix Table A-1 at the end of this report. By race, a preference for more work hours and proportionately more pay is more prevalent among blacks 60 percent and Hispanics 74 percentthough it is still a high 47 percent among whites. Most pertinently, by employment status—it is 60 percent among part-time workers.
Nevertheless, the rate is still a high 50 percent among full-time workers.
Interestingly, not unlike the Pew poll, half of those outside the work force—retirees and homemakers, would prefer to work at least one more day per week, and among students, this was 65 percent. The persistence of all these various forms of underemployment is at least partly responsible for the inability to achieve full economic recovery and expansion. Household earnings are constrained not only by stagnant wage rates, 14 and the lack of any let alone premium pay for extra hours of work, 15 but by workers not able to find or get additional, preferred hours of work.
While underemployment cannot be simply eradicated by shifting work from the overemployed to the underemployed, because much of such work is not directly transferable between employees, it is possible that at least some could be shifted, to the benefit of both groups. The great majority of hourly part-time workers 83 percent report having unstable work schedules Ruan and Reichman This is mainly because fluctuation creates interference of work with nonwork activity and undermines the effort-recovery process, time needed for rest in between shifts in order to perform effectively.
Even when work hours are positively related to indicators of well-being, variability of work diminishes well-being ificantly Wood, Michaelides, and Totterdell ; Golden et al. Work schedules 130 lunch break meet up shifts that are irregular are consistently found to be associated with assorted adverse outcomes for workers Askenazy ; Costa, Sartori, Akerstedt ; Heisz and LaRochelle-Cote ; Camerino et al.
One such study examined the extent to which work demands, including irregular work schedules, are related to work-family conflict as well as life and job satisfaction among nurses. Irregular work schedules along with work overload are the predictors of work-family conflict, and that work-family conflict is in turn associated with lower job and life satisfaction Yildirim and Aycan Generally, having to be constantly available for work, not just long hours per se, creates a daily struggle for workers to reconcile competing caregiving and workplace demands Correll et al.
The fact that household income has become more volatile in the most recent four decades, through the late s, is a key labor market development. It is also surprising, given the relatively higher stability in the macroeconomy until A surprisingly high share over 30 percent of Americans report experiencing ificant spikes and dips in 130 lunch break meet up incomes. Most important here, among such workers, 42 percent attribute the variability to an irregular work schedule while an additional 27 percent cite seasonality of work or an unemployment spell, and the rest being paid by bonuses or commissions.
This reason for income volatility, an irregular work scheduleconstitutes almost as much as all other work reasons put together. Of the 42 percent whose work hours change from week to week, 58 percent work full-time, 30 percent work part-time, and 11 percent are self-employed. Moreover, 10 percent say that their income varies substantially from month to month while another 21 percent say that they occasionally experience a work month with unusually high or low incomes. Reduced work hours are one of three main culprits along with health problems and unexpected increase in household member size.
Work hour schedules are not uncommonly posted no more than a week in advance for employees, sometimes even less, for work the following week.
Little advance notice of posting of work schedules, daily scheduling changes, and overtime work can lead to increased work-family time conflict, but also to work stress, child care difficulties, and variable earnings e. How far in advance do employees know what days and hours they will need to work? Having such short notice is more common among workers paid by the hour 41 percent than by other means 33 percent and also among part-time 48 percent workers, but not uncommon among full-time workers 35 percent. While 41 percent of hourly workers report knowing their work schedule only one week or less in advance, an almost identical proportion 39 percent report knowing their work schedule four or more weeks in advance.
Thus, many employers are certainly capable of informing hourly employees well in advance. Advance notice of schedules is distributed quite differently among occupational groups. Among service workers, production workers, and skilled trades, most employees know their schedule only one week or less in advance. Service and production supervisors, however, are among both those with the shortest and the longest advance notice. In contrast, the majority of professionals, business staff, and providers of social services for example, school teachers, social workers, and nurses know their work schedule four or more weeks in advance.
Furthermore, approximately 74 percent of employees in both hourly and nonhourly jobs experience at least some fluctuation in weekly hours over the course of a month. Among workers with children, 40 percent report one week or less advance notice and 50 percent say they have no input into their schedule.
Employers determine the work schedules of about half of young adults without employee input, which in part-time schedules that fluctuate between 17 and 28 hours per week. For the majority of employees who work fewer than 40, as well as those with more than 44 hours in a normal week, hour fluctuation is the norm. So, among workers with the longest hours, the hour workweek seems not to be the norm but rather, just a lower bound.
The mean variation in the length of the workweek is 10 hours among hourly workers as compared with nearly 12 hours among nonhourly workers. Among the 74 percent of hourly workers who report having fluctuations in the last month, hours vary by a whopping 50 percent of their usual work hours, on average.
A sampling nonrepresentative of retail sector workers in and around New York City finds that only 40 percent of such employees have a minimum of hours set per week Luce, Hammad, and Sipe For workers with ificant care-giving or financial commitments, having weeks with as few as zero hours and days when there may be either no work or short notice to arrive at work, may make balancing work with life stressful, intolerable, or even impossible, forcing them to choose between participating in the paid labor force, unemployment, or withdrawal from the labor force.
Which workers are more prone to have variable workweeks? It contrasts the degrees of work-family interference, work stress, and fatigue reported by those on irregular vs. It distinguishes this by hourly vs.130 lunch break meet up
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