Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Report Finds Women in Lower-Paying Jobs Most Affected by Pay Penalty Associated With Working Fewer Hours
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Report Finds Women in Lower-Paying Jobs Most Affected by Pay Penalty Associated With Working Fewer Hours

Press Contacts

  • Chelsea Kiene

Washington, D.C. — Many low- to moderate-income workers, who often are subject to unpredictable scheduling practices that result in erratic or reduced hours, experience a pay penalty when working fewer than 40 hours per week. Although both women and men experience this pay penalty, women are disproportionately affected because they are more likely to work in lower-paying, hourly jobs and for fewer hours. These are among the key findings in a new report released by the Center for American Progress and authored by Harvard University economist Claudia Goldin.

Examining moderate- and lower-paying occupations—such as food preparation, personal service, administrative and office jobs, and sales—the study explores the role of hours in determining earnings for workers. The analysis finds substantial penalties to the hourly wage from working fewer than 40 hours per week and only modest gains to the hourly wage from working more than 40 hours per week. Women are more likely to work in these hourly jobs and thus are affected the most, including many women with children, who often take time away from work to care for their families and experience unpredictable hours and low compensation when they return to work.

Addressing the hours wage penalty is important for workers and their families. “[B]ecause it is more likely to affect women than men, addressing the issue would help to eradicate the gender wage gap within occupations,” Goldin notes in the report. “At a time when a record number of women are supporting themselves and their families as breadwinners, the consequences of women’s greater likelihood of lower pay can have negative consequences for families’ economic security.” Further, part-time workers unable to find full-time employment “experience a wage penalty on top of their inability to work more hours, doubly harming their economic well-being.”

Read the report: Hours Flexibility and the Gender Gap in Pay by Claudia Goldin

Related resources: 

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Chelsea Kiene at ckiene@americanprogress.org or 202.478.5328.

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