We see encouraging signs regarding the recovery of the labor market. Despite this upturn, a high rate of under-employment among Americans as they continue to work part-time or irregular work schedules. An estimate of 5 million people are working for lesser wages and for lesser hours than they would prefer. This is limiting the possibilities for a large workforce as well as complicating the lives of these individuals. Among the worst affected people are the caregivers, whose services can be required at any hour.
Irregular work schedules contribute to income instability among households and impact economic factors across the country. A General Social Survey (GSS) has been developed, which has analyzed data obtained from different sources, resulting in some key findings which are mentioned below.
Irregular work schedules – Key findings
- It has been observed that about 10% of the total workforce has to work in irregular shifts as well as on-call. 7% of the workforce works in rotary shifts, which, when combined with the other 10%, makes up 17% of the workforce that are facing irregular scheduling issues.
- About 6% of this irregular workforce, work at an hourly rate—8% for a specific salary, and an additional 30% at any other compensatory mechanism. The numbers are even higher for the workers in rotatory irregular work schedules.
- Workers who fall at the lowest spot in the pyramid face the most challenging situation and are among the lowest-earning citizens.
- A minimum salary threshold limit for the workers is close to $22,500 per year. It has also been observed that those who are working under this limit are most likely to be affected by irregular scheduling. This stat reinforces the fact that irregular scheduling is positively correlated to low income among laborers.
- Irregular work schedules have also been related to longer weekly working hours. So basically, workers are spending more time at work weekly, yet they are still earning less than the majority of the population. Sales related jobs are most commonly associated with irregular scheduling and make up majority of this workforce, who are in desperate need of a reprieve. 15% of the irregular workforce comprises of individuals related to sales.
- Agriculture, repair services, transport, entertainment, and real estate are the most hardly hit industrial sectors with lopsided scheduling. These sectors of the economy need to be reformed to prevent irregular work schedules from further escalating.
- The data (10%) obtained from Current Population Survey regarding the non-specification of an ‘unusual’ workweek is extraordinarily consistent with the finding in the GSS data. If an individual is working part-time, the likelihood of working variable hours almost double. Managerial jobs, government employees, professional support services, and jobs requiring technical skills are among the industries that have the lowest flexibility regarding working hours as their shift timings are usually fixed.
- It has been found in the International Social survey that in 45% of the cases, employers are the ones who decide the shift timings, and only 15% of the workforce are allowed flexible shift timing. In contrast, the remaining percentage couldn’t decide within current constraints. This highlights a significant percentage of the workforce that can be subject to irregular work schedules as they don’t have an alternative in the process.
Community action groups and labor unions have spearheaded efforts to put forward and implement legislation at local and federal levels against irregular work schedules. These irregular work schedules have had damaging effects in the past, which, if allowed to continue, would further blight the working-class labor of this country.
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