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July 11, 2005
Smaller Portion of Workers Have Flexible Schedules

More than 27 million full-time wage and salary workers had flexible work schedules that allowed them to vary the time they began or ended work in 2004, comprising 27.5 percent of all full-time wage and salary workers, down from 28.6 percent in May 2001, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor.

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The proportion who usually worked a shift other than a daytime schedule (14.8 percent) remained close to the 2001 level.

Flexible Schedules

In May 2004, men continued to be somewhat more likely to have flexible schedules than women (28.1 and 26.7 percent, respectively). Among the major occupational groups, flexible schedules were most common among management, professional, and related occupations (36.8 percent).

Within that occupational group, 44.7 percent of management, business, and financial operations workers were able to vary their work hours.

Flexible schedules also were prevalent among sales and office workers (29.5 percent).

Among private sector employees, industries with a relatively high prevalence of workers with flexible schedules included financial activities (37.7 percent), professional and business services (37.6 percent), and information (34.9 percent).

Industries with a relatively low prevalence of workers on flexible schedules included mining (22.9 percent) and construction (20.3 percent).

Formal Flextime Programs

Although more than 1 in 4 workers can work a flexible schedule, only about 1 in 10 are enrolled in a formal, employer-sponsored flextime program. Workers in management, professional, and related occupations were among the most likely to have a formal flextime program (14.2 percent).

Shift Work

Almost 15 percent of full-time wage and salary workers usually worked an alternative shift in May 2004. By type of shift, 4.7 percent of the total worked evening shifts, 3.2 percent worked night shifts, 3.1 percent worked employer-arranged irregular schedules, and 2.5 percent worked rotating shifts. The proportion of full-time wage and salary workers on alternative schedules has fallen since May 1991. Over half (54.6 percent) of those working an alternative shift did so because it was the "nature of the job." Other reasons for working a non-daytime schedule included "personal preference" (11.5 percent), "better arrangements for family or child care" (8.2 percent), "could not get any other job" (8.1 percent), and "better pay" (6.8 percent).

Many of those who worked night and evening shifts chose such schedules due to personal preference (21.0 and 15.9 percent, respectively) or because these shifts facilitated better arrangements for family or child care (15.9 and 11.0 percent, respectively). The vast majority of those with rotating, split, and employer-arranged irregular schedules reported the "nature of the job" as the reason for working a non-daytime schedule.

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