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Economic Perspective: Tradeoffs in Work Schedules

NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences professor Dr. Mike Walden working in a recording studio.


“Today’s program looks at tradeoffs in work schedules. Mike, most jobs involve many characteristics. Among the most important is the work schedule. Some jobs have a 9-to-5 schedule while other jobs are more open ended. Do we have any information on what kind of schedule most workers prefer?”


“Well we are having a change in work schedules. It used to be that most jobs were of the 9-to-5 nature. You knew exactly when you were going to work; when you went home you were done with work. Now many jobs with technology, the boss can get to you at any time. So in some sense, even though the employee may be away from their job site, they’re still on the clock because of technology. That’s one change.”

“The other change of course is the so-called gig-economy. Where workers are not working at one job that has a 9-5. They’re working, maybe, at several jobs. Those jobs may change over time. They’ve got different kind of schedules, et cetera. So work schedules have dramatically evolved over time.”

“Now a new survey found that 40 percent of workers surveyed said that they wouldn’t take a job if the schedule could change at the whim of the boss, and they much prefer the 9-to-5 job. And even more importantly the same survey showed that if they would be willing to give up 25% of the pay on the job to go from a job where there was no set schedule to a job where there was a set schedule, like a 9-to-5.”

“So definitely workers still prefer that 9-to-5 work schedule, and indeed the surveys do show that women are even more adamant about preferring that set schedule.”