Working hard is seen as fundamental to securing a stable life and achieving the American Dream. However, many Americans struggle to make ends meet despite their hard work. This fact sheet explores the instability associated with low-wage jobs, which often have unreliable and untraditional hours. Volatile work schedules are tied to unpredictable monthly incomes, difficulty meeting life obligations, and adverse health outcomes. Workers earning low wages are eligible for several safety net programs designed to help them make ends meet, but the unsteady nature of many low-wage jobs can complicate eligibility for these programs.
“Unstable Jobs, Unstable Lives: Low-Wage Work in the United States,” released December 2018, was prepared by Anna Walther. This fact sheet explores the volatility of low-wage jobs in the United States, focusing on inconsistent work schedules, unpredictable monthly income, the ways in which instability can affect workers’ overall well-being, and how irregular schedules can complicate eligibility for some safety net programs.