Economic Snapshot | Trade and Globalization

Nonstandard work vs. regular full-time jobs

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Snapshot for January 19, 2000

Nonstandard work vs. regular full-time jobs

Most nonstandard workers* receive hourly wages that are, on average, lower than those of regular full-time workers with similar personal characteristics, such as education level. In fact, the penalties are sizable. Men in nonstandard jobs make 20% and women 27% less, per hour, than their full-time counterparts with similar personal characteristics. For temps, the difference is 18% for women and 15% for men (see the first chart below).

But comparisons that take into consideration both personal and job characteristics (including industry, occupation, union representation, and receipt of health insurance and/or a pension) show that the pay penalties shrink and some nonstandard workers actually receive pay premiums (see the second chart below). This occurs because nonstandard work is disproportionately found in low wage industries and occupations and in jobs lacking union representation, health insurance, and a pension — characteristics often associated with low wages. Compared with all regular, full-time workers in the economy, the average nonstandard worker receives lower pay. But when limiting the comparison to workers with similar job characteristics (that is, other workers in poor-quality jobs), then some nonstandard workers may receive higher pay. Regardless, the bottom line is that, whether workers choose or are forced to work nonstandard jobs, they will most likely be paid significantly less, per hour, than if they were in regular, full-time jobs.

* Temps, on-call workers, independent contractors, the self employed, and regular part-time workers.

Source: EPI analysis of the February 1997 Supplement to the Current Population Survey.

For more information on nonstandard workers, see the EPI Briefing Paper No Shortage of Nonstandard Jobs.

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