Category

Papers

Can’t Catch a Break: Intersectional Inequalities at Work

Read the Full Article The labor market is the site of longstanding and persistent inequalities across race and gender groups in hiring, compensation, and advancement. In this paper, we draw on data from 13,574 hourly service-sector workers to extend the study of intersectional labor market inequalities to workers’ experience on the job. In the service sector, where workers are regularly expected to be on their feet for long hours and contend with intense and unrelenting workloads, regular break time is an essential component of job quality and general well-being. Yet, we find that Black women are less likely than their...

Racial/Ethnic and Gender Inequities in the Sufficiency of Paid Leave During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Evidence from the Service Sector

Access to paid family and medical leave (PFML), including leave to care for a seriously ill loved one or recover from one's own serious illness, conveys health and economic benefits for workers and their families. However, without a national PFML policy, access to paid leave remains limited and unequal. Previous work documenting inequitable access by socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity primarily focuses on parental leave, measures theoretical access to paid leave rather than actual leave uptake, and lacks an accounting for why workers of color and women may have less access to PFML. We extend this literature by looking at leave-taking...

The Politics of Prevention: Polarization in How Workplace COVID-19 Safety Practices Shaped the Well-Being of Frontline Service Sector Workers

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically reshaped the labor market, especially for service sector workers. Frontline service sector workers, already coping with precarious working conditions, faced proximate risks of COVID-19 transmission on the job and navigated new workplace safety measures, including masking, social distancing, and staying home while sick, all in a polarized political environment. We examine polarization in the effects of COVID-19 workplace safety measures on workers’ feelings of safety and well-being. Specifically, we examine how support for former President Trump moderates the relationship between COVID-19 safety practices (masking, social distancing, staying home while sick) and workers’ feelings of safety and...

Mandates Narrow Gender Gaps In Paid Sick Leave Coverage For Low-Wage Workers In The US

Paid sick leave helps workers recover from illness and manage care obligations and protects public health. Yet access to paid sick leave remains limited and unequal in the United States. Drawing on surveys of 61,223 service-sector workers collected during the period 2017–21 by the Shift Project, we documented limited access to paid sick leave and stark gender inequality, with women less likely than men to have paid sick leave. Part-time employment and gender segregation by industry subsector each explain part, but not all, of the gender disparity. However, in states and localities that mandate paid sick leave for workers, workers...

The Gender Wage Gap, Between-Firm Inequality, and Devaluation: Testing a New Hypothesis in the Service Sector

Unequal sorting of men and women into higher and lower-wage firms contributes significantly to the gender wage gap according to recent analysis of national labor markets. We confirm the importance of this between-firm gender segregation in wages and examine a second outcome of hours using unique employer–employee data from the service sector. We then examine what explains the relationship between firm gender composition and wages. In contrast to prevailing economic explanations that trace between-firm differences in wages to differences in firm surplus, we find evidence consistent with devaluation and potentially a gender-specific use of “low road” employment strategies.

Parenting without Predictability: Precarious Schedules, Parental Strain, and Work-Life Conflict

Against the backdrop of dramatic changes in work and family life, this article draws on survey data from 2,971 mothers working in the service sector to examine how unpredictable schedules are associated with three dimensions of parenting: difficulty arranging childcare, work-life conflict, and parenting stress. Results demonstrate that on-call shifts, shift timing changes, work hour volatility, and short advance notice of work schedules are positively associated with difficulty arranging childcare and work-life conflict. Mothers working these schedules are more likely to miss work. We consider how family structure and race moderate the relationship between schedule instability and these dimensions of...

Older Workers with Unpredictable Schedules: Implications for Well-being and Job Retention

Policies aimed at improving scheduling conditions hold promise to benefit older service workers' well-being. As the population ages, improving work schedules in the years approaching retirement may be important to longer working lives.

Uncertain Time: Precarious Schedules and Job Turnover in the U.S. Service Sector

The authors develop a model of cumulative disadvantage relating three axes of disadvantage for hourly workers in the US retail and food service sectors: schedule instability, turnover, and earnings. In this model, exposure to unstable work schedules disrupts workers’ family and economic lives, straining the employment relation and increasing the likelihood of turnover, which can then lead to earnings losses. Drawing on new panel data from 1,827 hourly workers in retail and food service collected as part of the Shift Project, the authors demonstrate that exposure to schedule instability is a strong, robust predictor of turnover for workers with relatively...

Schedule Unpredictability and High Cost Debt: The Case of Service Workers

High-cost financial services allow economically insecure families to make ends meet but often contribute to additional financial strain in the long run. This study uses novel data from the Shift Project to describe the link between schedule unpredictability and high-cost debt (i.e., payday loans, pawnshop loans, auto-title loans, overdrafts, and problematic credit card debt) among service workers. First, it compares the relative magnitude of the associations between high-cost debt, schedule unpredictability, and levels of income. Second, it investigates whether income volatility mediates the relationship between schedule unpredictability and high-cost debt. Finally, it describes whether the link between schedule unpredictability and...

Maternal Exposure to Work Schedule Unpredictability and Child Behavior

Alongside wages, work schedules are a fundamental component of job quality, yet work schedules are largely unregulated in the US labor market. In 2017, Seattle became the second large US city to pass fair workweek legislation. Seattle’s Secure Scheduling ordinance aims to increase schedule predictability by requiring employers to provide 2 wk notice of work schedules, among other provisions. Our paper shows that Seattle’s law not only increased schedule predictability but also improved subjective well-being, sleep quality, and economic security. The law had no effect on reports of psychological distress. Using the natural experiment afforded by Seattle’s fair workweek law,...
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