“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.

“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, along with related economic insecurity, can introduce far-reaching instability into the lives of workers and their families.3 A lack of data has limited our ability to understand the implications of just-in-time scheduling and routine work schedule instability for workers’ health and wellbeing.”

This article appeared in the American Sociological Review. Download a Research Brief (PDF) or a copy of the full study here (PDF).