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November, 1986, Vol. 109, No. 11
The growing diversity
of work schedules
During any given week, the composition of the active segment of the work force undergoes many changes. Each industry and occupation has its own cycle of activity and draws on a somewhat different labor pool. Most production occurs Monday through Friday (or Saturday), frequently with the aid of evening and night shifts on those days. However, some economic activities, such as continuous manufacturing processes, agriculture, transportation and communications, health and certain other services, and retail sales, extend beyond the Monday to Friday schedule. In fact, these activities predominate on Saturday and Sunday. Each demographic group establishes itself within this variable labor market according to the types of jobs its members can obtain and the work schedules they are able to accommodate in their personal lives.
This article, based on the May 1985 Current Population Survey (CPS) supplement, examines several of the work schemes adopted by U.S. workers on their principal jobs. The schedules discussed include the "standard workweek" (that is, 40 hours in 5 days); compressed and extended schedules; part-time, full-time, and long hours schemes; and variations in the number of days worked per week, and in the choice of specific days worked. Where possible, patterns observed in May 1985 are compared with those observed previously to judge the nature and pace of change. The CPS surveys of May 1973 and May 1979 are used in this comparison to minimize distortions due to business cycle fluctuations.
This excerpt is from an article published in the November 1986 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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