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

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WP-Choper Schneider and Harknett-Uncertain Time

Joshua Choper, University of California, Berkeley
Daniel Schneider, University of California, Berkeley
Kristen Harknett, University of California, San Francisco


Existing research on the service sector in the United States documents the macro-level fundamental causes of precarious work, often with a focus on economic outcomes such as wages and fringe benefits. The authors focus on the temporal dimension of precarity, drawing upon new panel data from 1,725 hourly workers in retail and food service collected as part of The Shift Project to examine how exposure to unstable and unpredictable work schedules can heighten vulnerability to job turnover and downward wage mobility, propagating employment disadvantage at a micro-level. The authors find that precarious scheduling, including short advance notice and on-call shifts, significantly increases turnover and that these associations are partly mediated by work-life conflict and job dissatisfaction. Further, job turnover is associated with downward mobility in earnings. Exposure to precarious work can trigger a process of cumulative disadvantage and constrain intra-generational mobility.

October 16, 2019


Job Mobility

Schedule Stability

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