Who Takes the High Road? Explanations for Company-Level Variation in Precarious Scheduling

Awarded Scholars:
Daniel Schneider, University of California, Berkeley
Kristen Harknett, University of California, San Francisco
Project Date:
Dec 2017
Award Amount:

Co-funded with the W. K. Kellogg Foundation

Retail sales, food preparation and food service jobs employ over 10 million Americans, and their number is expected to grow in the coming years. These low-skill and low-pay jobs have few benefits, typically short tenure, and non-standard hours—or work hours that include evening, nights and weekends. Workers also experience unpredictable work schedules, with many receiving weekly schedules only a few days in advance, experiencing scheduled hours and days that change substantially week to week, or shifts that are changed, cancelled, or added at the last minute. But some evidence suggests substantial heterogeneity in workers’ experiences within the sector. What employer-level factors are associated with variation among firms in worker exposure to unstable and unpredictable hours?

Daniel Schneider and Kristen Harknett will use new microdata that links workers to identifiable employers in order to 1) quantify the extent to which workers at different firms experience more or less unstable schedules and 2) test several potential explanations of between- employer variations in workers’ experiences. These factors include a firm’s ownership structure, the gender and racial/ethnic composition of the workforce, the gender composition of the leadership team, the extent of union representation, public pressure to change scheduling practices, industry sector, and establishment size.


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