By Kristen Harknett

A pair of hands wearing protective rubber gloves holding a bunch of thin surgical masks

Essential and Unprotected: COVID-19-Related Health and Safety Procedures for Service-Sector Workers

Research Brief Press Release Download the data The coronavirus outbreak has had a massive impact on public health and the economy. In the United States, the 25 million workers employed in the service sector have been hit particularly hard by the health and economic crisis. Workers in some segments of the retail and food-service industries have experienced reductions in hours as well as widespread layoffs due to store closures or dramatically reduced demand. At the same time, workers employed in the grocery, delivery, and pharmacy sectors have been designated as “essential” workers and are experiencing an entirely different set of...
Rendering of the coronavirus (COVID-19)

Essential and Vulnerable: Service-Sector Workers and Paid Sick Leave

Research Brief Press Release Against the backdrop of a global health crisis, service-sector workers are newly visible. While millions of American workers have been instructed to stay home, workers in the grocery, food-service, pharmacy, hardware, and delivery sectors continue to stock stores, fulfill take-out orders, and deliver necessities. Their work is vital to the wellbeing and survival of the population during the coronavirus pandemic. But, these members of the essential workforce are highly vulnerable to the economic and health risks posed by the pandemic. The service sector is large, comprising nearly 20% of the American workforce. Even in good economic...
Grocery store worker stocking egg cartons

Estimates of Workers Who Lack Access to Paid Sick Leave at 91 Large Service Sector Employers

Download the report Download the data The current health and economic crisis caused by the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is unfolding rapidly. Workers in the retail and food service sectors have been particularly hard hit. Most of these workers were already in a financially precarious position and are now facing income shocks from store closures and reduced hours. Adding to these hardships, many also lack access to paid sick leave and would have to forgo much needed pay, or even risk job loss, if they were to stay home sick. The lack of paid sick leave has serious repercussions for service...
US Map with a target on New Jersey, overlaid with scaled circles and text that says: 29% work on call; 49% work clopping shifts; 73% want more stability and predictability in their work schedules; 59% receive less than two weeks' advance notice

Working in the Service Sector in New Jersey

Research Brief Press Release Service sector jobs in the United States are characterized by low pay, few fringe benefits, and limited employee control over scheduled work days and times.1 Many service sector employers across the country rely on just-in-time and on-call scheduling practices designed to minimize labor costs by closely aligning staffing with consumer demand.2 These practices can introduce significant instability into the lives of workers and their families.3 This research brief is part of a series designed to advance our understanding of working conditions in the service sector—in particular, schedule instability and unpredictability—in cities and states across the country....
Clock surrounded by water ripple effect

It’s About Time: How Work Schedule Instability Matters for Workers, Families, and Racial Inequality

Research Brief Press Release Many Americans are working, but poor. Along with low wages and few benefits, the working poor frequently find themselves up against erratic work schedules, with hours and shifts that change day-to-day and week-to-week with little advance notice. Particularly in the food-service and retail sectors, which employ 17% of American workers, such unstable and unpredictable work schedules are widespread.1 Now, newly available data from The Shift Project offers unprecedented insight into the prevalence of unstable work scheduling conditions and the consequences of this instability for workers and their children. Among 30,000 employees at 120 of the largest...

Consequences of Routine Work Schedule Instability for Worker Health and Wellbeing

Research Brief Press Release The American labor market is increasingly unequal, with ever greater returns at the top of the market and growing insecurity for workers at the bottom. Much has been written about the economic face of rising precarity for low-wage workers, but this transformation has also involved a shift in the temporal dimension of work. Frontline service sector jobs are characterized, not only by stagnant wages and few fringe benefits, but by a lack of employee control over scheduled work days and times in the context of substantial schedule instability.1 Many service sector employers across the country rely...
Boston map

Working in the Service Sector in Boston

Research Brief Press Release Service sector jobs in the United States are characterized by low pay, few fringe benefits, and limited employee control over scheduled work days and times.1 Many service sector employers across the country rely on just-in-time and on-call scheduling practices designed to minimize labor costs by closely aligning staffing with consumer demand.2 These practices can introduce significant instability into the lives of workers and their families.3 This research brief is part of a series designed to advance our understanding of working conditions in the service sector–in particular, schedule instability and unpredictability–in cities and states across the country....
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