New York– Nearly 40 percent of low-wage employees in the US worked inconsistent hours after the Great Recession, say researchers, making it hard for them to plan for basic needs like paying rent or taking care of their kids.

“Since the Great Recession, so much of the conversation has been about unemployment completely,” said Ryan Finnigan, assistant professor of sociology from University of California-Davis.

There’s another conversation that’s been much less prominent about the quality of jobs that are replacing the ones that have been lost, he added.

For the study, Finnigan and PhD candidate Joanna Hale looked beyond the record unemployment of the 2007-09 Great Recession to examine job stability.

They found that even before the recession, workers who had inconsistent hours from week to week earned less and were more likely to live in poverty than workers with consistent hours.

With the onset of the recession, they fared even worse.

“Unpredictable work schedules and unstable hours create significant costs of time and money for millions of workers and their families,” Finnigan noted.

Unstable work schedules made it difficult to keep a long-term budget or to plan for time with family, child care and even the rest and relaxation that workers with regular hours can take for granted.

To reduce their labour costs, some employers use “just-in-time” scheduling which uses a software that can determine the number of workers needed based on change in customer traffic down to the hour.

“I think that’s something that’s working out very well for employers and not very well for employees but they have little recourse to find better arrangements,” Finnigan pointed out.

The findings were scheduled to be presented at the 111th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA) in Seattle this week. (IANS)