By Adam Storer

What Explains Racial/Ethnic Inequality in Job Quality in the Service Sector?

Precarious work in the United States is defined by economic and temporal dimensions. A large literature documents the extent of low wages and limited fringe benefits, but research has only recently examined the prevalence and consequences of unstable and unpredictable work schedules. Yet practices such as on-call shifts, last minute cancellations, and insufficient work hours are common in the retail and food-service sectors.

Early Career Workers in the Service Sector

For many young workers, the service sector is the site where they begin their careers. The service sector comprises 17 percent of jobs in the U.S. economy, and 35 percent of the jobs occupied by those under the age of 25 (BLS, 2018). Young workers in the service sector typically receive low wages and few fringe benefits, and also contend with erratic work schedules, with hours and shifts that change day to day and week to week with little advance notice. These workers rarely have much input into the timing and amount of their scheduled work hours. These conditions may...