David S. Pedulla 

Department of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin

Non-Standard, Contingent, and Precarious Work in the "New Economy"

Non-standard, contingent, and precarious employment – such as part-time work, temporary agency employment, and independent contracting – have become a cornerstone of the "new economy." In this line of research, I take seriously the consequences of these changes in employment relations for both workers and business organizations while filling important gaps in the literature. First, I investigate the impact of non-standard employment histories on workers’ future labor market opportunities and address how these consequences vary by the race and gender of the worker. To shed light on this set of issues, I implemented an experimental audit study of job openings at nearly 2,500 employers across five U.S. labor markets as well as a survey experiment with approximately 2,000 hiring decision-makers at U.S. firms. In both experiments, the primary manipulation was the most recent employment experience of the job applicant – full-time, part-time, or temporary agency employment, a job below the applicant’s skill level, or a spell of unemployment. I also manipulated the race and gender of the job applicants using racialized and gendered names. By tracking employers’ responses to each employment history in both the survey experiment and the audit study I am able to generate causal estimates of the consequences of non-standard work histories for individuals as they move through the labor market as well as probe the mechanisms underlying these consequences.

I also explore the consequences of business establishments’ utilization of non-standard workers. Drawing on employer-employee matched data in the United States, I examine how employers’ use of temporary workers, on-call workers, and independent contractors is related to the attitudes and outcomes of the standard employees in those workplaces. After adjusting for key organizational and individual factors, I find that employers’ use of temporary workers, but not their use of on-call workers or independent contractors, is associated with standard employees reporting lower levels of perceived job security and organizational trust as well as worse relationships with managers and co-workers. Overall, this line of research aims to more deeply understand the consequences of changing economic structures for key social outcomes and to identify the mechanisms through which those consequences operate.

Race, Gender, and Employment

In a second set of research, I explore how racial and gender inequalities are reproduced and reshaped through the employment process. The first project in this area, funded by Time-Sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences, examines how negative racial stereotypes that are connected to hiring discrimination can be mitigated or counteracted to reduce discrimination. In a second line of research, with Dr. Devah Pager (Harvard University), I am examining how race and gender shape the job search process beyond standard measures of search intensity and search methods. Drawing on original panel data that collects information about the actual pool of job titles to which job seekers apply, we are able to examine race and gender differences in the set of jobs to which respondents submit applications. Third, in a project drawing on original survey-experimental data, I am working with Dr. Sarah Thebaud (University of California, Santa Barbara) to examine how workplace and social policies shape the preferences of young, unmarried, childless men and women about how to structure their future work and family lives. Finally, in a project with Lindsay Owens (Stanford University), I am seeking to understand how shifts in employment and income influence individuals' attitudes about social policies. Drawing on panel data from the General Social Survey, we examine how becoming unemployed or losing income are related to individuals' preferences for government redistribution from the rich to the poor. Together, these projects seek to investigate how race, gender, and employment interact to shape key social processes.