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Unstable changes in service workers related to dependence on high debt

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Time, rather than money, seems to influence whether employees in the service sector turn to so-called predatory lenders.


A study by researchers at Washington State University and Harvard University found that unpredictable work schedules for service employees play a major role in dependence on debt, which is higher than income. Service employees work in industries such as retail. Food service, Grocery store, hospitality, delivery, fulfillment. Many of the survey samples work for the largest retailers in the United States, Amazon and Wal-Mart.

“Experience schedule Volatility is fairly common among workers in the service sector, “said Mariana Amorim, a WSU sociologist and lead author of journal research. Sociology.. “We found that the more schedule fluctuations people experience, the more likely they are to borrow an expensive loan, such as from a pawnshop or car title lender. credit card In a problematic way “

Amorim and co-author Daniel Schneider, a professor of public policy at Harvard University, analyzed the data from 2017 to 2019. Shift project Contains survey responses from about 40,000 Service worker While many of the samples worked in low-paying positions such as cashiers and waiters across the United States, the group also includes people in high-income positions such as managers with annual salaries above $ 75,000 and more stable salaries. Was included.

Workers’ income levels are an important predictor of high-value loan use, but experiencing unpredictability in schedules has a greater impact on high-value loan use.In fact, the unpredictability of schedules has shown a strong link to the use of high-value loans among service workers, regardless of both income levels and their experience of income variability.

“We found little evidence that this was just about money. There is an independent and important time factor,” Amorim said.

The data could not clarify why schedule volatility has a strong link to high-risk debt, but the authors found that schedule volatility affected physical and mental health and was willing. It points to other studies showing that it can undermine decisions. In addition, people with unstable schedules may have to rely on family and friends for childcare, etc., and may have to rely on other places if they are burdened with social support. Financial assistance..

Also, the non-standard hours these employees work can make access to mainstream banks and public support difficult. Both of these systems take a lot of time to navigate, at least compared to high-value creditors, according to Amorim. She is currently preparing a qualitative study with a sample of workers to dig deeper into the reasons behind this relationship.

Current research has focused on the unpredictability of multiple types of schedules, including daily or weekly shift changes, lack of notification of changes, “on-call”, and shift cancellation. Most of the workers in the sample experienced more than one type of schedule variation within a month.

Neither government assistance nor the “hard loan” program provided by some employers had a significant impact on workers’ reliance on high debt. Amorim said accessing these programs may be too difficult or unable to meet chronic needs.

Instead, the researcher is with the employer Policy maker See how to give people more control over their time. They pointed out policies that are in place in several locations, including Seattle, Oregon, and New York City, to ensure that workers are notified at least two weeks in advance of what their schedule will be.

Due to the post-pandemic blockade, many retailers and restaurants are struggling to fill the jobs that are currently reopening, even though they are raising wages to attract workers. Amorim suggested that scheduling factors may also be considered, as lost service workers may hesitate to return to a chaotic work schedule.

“We tend to think that more money solves all problems. That’s not all, but it may solve most problems,” she said. “There is this invisible vulnerability that needs to be considered in terms of quality of life, decision making and relationships. Money alone cannot solve it. It’s about the importance of time.”


Studies show that few hourly workers are compensated for shift cuts, as required by law.


For more information:
Mariana Amorim et al., Unpredictable and High-Cost Debt Schedule: Service Worker Case Study, Sociology (2022). DOI: 10.15195 / v9.a5

Quote: Unstable shifts of service workers related to dependence on high debt (April 28, 2022) https: //phys.org/news/2022-04-workers-volatile-shifts-linked-reliance. Obtained April 28, 2022 from html

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Unstable changes in service workers related to dependence on high debt

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