While the U.S. work week, or hours spent working for pay by the average employee, has not significantly changed over the past 30 years, the demands of work and family are certainly colliding. According to research by sociologists, there is a growing split of the labor force into those squeezed by family and work time demands, usually at the top end of the pay scale, and those unable to find sufficient amounts of work, usually at the bottom of the pay scale. In addition, an ongoing transformation of family life also lies at the heart of the new time dilemmas facing an increasing number of Americans.
According to U.S. Census figures, the average male worked 43.5 hours a week in 1970 and 43.1 hours a week in 2000, and the average female worked 37.1 hours in 1970 and 37.0 hours in 2000. The work experience of individuals does not give a clear picture though until we shift our focus to the combined work hours of the family, where the time squeeze becomes more apparent.
Sociologists Kathleen Gerson, New York University, and Jerry Jacobs, University of Pennsylvania, found that "[c]hanges in jobs and changes in families…are separating the two-earner and single-parent households from the more traditional households, and are creating different futures for parents, especially mothers, than for workers without children at home." Their research appears in the fall 2004 issue of Contexts magazine, published by the American Sociological Association.
Johanna Ebner | EurekAlert!
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