Working in a 24/7 Economy: Challenges for American Families
An economy that operates 24/7 – as the United States does – imposes special burdens on workers. Two-fifths of all employed Americans work mostly during evenings, nights, weekends, or on rotating shifts outside the traditional daytime hours. Employment at such times has significant implications for the health and well-being of workers and their families. This presentation highlights findings from my book (same title). I focus on the effects of nonstandard work schedules on family functioning and show how these schedules disrupt marriages, alter parent-child interaction, and generate complex child-care arrangements. The data come from two large-scale U.S. surveys. I argue that the growth in women's employment, technological change, and other demographic changes gave rise to the growing demand for late-shift and weekend employment. The data indicate that most Americans who work these hours do so primarily because it is a job requirement, rather than a choice based on personal considerations. The consequences of working nonstandard schedules often differ for men and women. Moreover, these schedules disproportionately affect the working poor. But the prevalence of nonstandard work schedules is pervasive throughout the population, and such schedules have created a new rhythm of daily life within many American families, including those with two earners and those with absent fathers. This demands more public attention and expanded research.