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December 2007, Vol. 130, No. 12
A time to work: recent trends in shift work and flexible schedules
Terence M. McMenamin
The traditional work schedule for an American employee has long been 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. However, an examination of data from the Work Schedules and Work at Home survey, a special supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS) conducted in May 2004, reveals that substantial proportions of workers’ schedules do not fit this paradigm. For instance, nearly one-third of wage and salary workers have flexible schedules on their primary jobs, meaning that they can vary their beginning and ending hours; about one-fifth work a shift other than a regular daytime shift on their primary job; and a slightly smaller proportion works on Saturday, Sunday, or both. The use of alternate shifts and flexible work schedules is often determined by the demands of the industry, rather than by workers’ preferences. However, schedule considerations and flexibility are influential factors in the career-planning and labor market decisions of many workers.
The Work Schedules and Work at Home survey obtained information on individuals’ work schedules or shifts and on whether they did any job-related work at home. The data presented in this article pertain to work schedules and alternate shifts. Because of the high prevalence of both shift work and flexitime among part-time workers, the article analyzes total employment, including that of both full- and part-time workers in most cases. (Where appropriate, data are analyzed separately for part-time workers; for further information about the survey, see the appendix.)
This excerpt is from an article published in the December 2007 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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