While the 9-to-5 remains the norm, a sizable portion of the American workforce labors outside traditional daytime hours in evening, night, and rotating shifts. These non-standard schedules pose risks even as they keep essential operations running 24/7. This report compiles statistics from 2023 and earlier years to profile US shift workers across industries, demographics, locations, and more. The data reveals key trends in shift work prevalence, motivations, impacts, and sentiment. While some willingly take on off-hour work, many do so out of necessity and face chronic health and safety concerns. The statistics provide insights into this overlooked group, their values, and the support needed to protect their well-being as they sacrifice standard hours to serve society’s round-the-clock needs.

Key takeaways

  • 16% of US wage and salary workers have non-standard schedules outside a regular 9-5.
  • Industries with high rates of night work include manufacturing (5.7%), transportation/utilities (6.3%), and leisure/hospitality (2.6%).
  • Younger workers (aged 15-24) are more likely to work non-daytime shifts (31.9%) compared to older workers (15.3% for those aged 55-64).
  • Men work slightly more non-day shifts than women (17.6% vs 15.2%).
  • Lower educational attainment correlates with higher rates of non-day work, with 19.9% of those without a high school diploma and only 1.7% of those with a bachelor's degree or higher working non-day shifts.
  • Workers earning less than the 25th percentile were more likely to work non-daytime hours, with 21.2% doing so, compared to 8.3% of those above the 75th percentile.
  • Las Vegas has the most night shift workers in the US at 16.5%.
  • 27% of healthcare practitioners and 19% of healthcare support workers work overnight shifts.
  • 29% of U.S. hourly workers dislike the health impacts of poor sleep.
  • 24% express concerns about the lack of control over their shifts.

US Workforce Working Alternative Shifts

A sizable portion of the US workforce takes on alternative schedules outside the typical 9-to-5. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics provide insights into the prevalence of evening, night, weekend, and rotating shifts across industries, occupations, and locations. The following highlights key statistics on the percentages of American workers on non-standard schedules.

  • In 2017-2018, 84% of wage and salary workers had a regular daytime schedule. The other 16% worked non-day hours, including 6% evenings and 4% nights. The rest had rotating, split, irregular, or other schedules.
  • 3.6% of all workers worked night shifts, with the highest rates among transportation/material moving workers (5.3%) and production workers (9.1%).
  • Industries with the highest rates of night shift work were manufacturing (5.7%), transportation/utilities (6.3%), and leisure/hospitality (2.6%).
  • Part-time workers were twice as likely as full-time workers to have non-daytime schedules (27.3% vs 13.6%).
  • Part-time workers were slightly more likely to work night shifts than full-time workers (4.1% vs 3.6%).
  • Certain industries had high rates of non-day work, like leisure/hospitality (36.8%), transportation/utilities (26%), and wholesale/retail trade (25.4%).
  • Sixty-eight percent of wage and salary workers usually worked Monday through Friday, and 9 percent usually worked Saturday and Sunday.
  • Las Vegas, NV, has the highest percentage (16.54%) of night-shift workers in the U.S. due to its 24-hour gambling and entertainment industry.
  • Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metro area in California has the second highest percentage (16.17%) of night-shift workers, with over 240,000 workers.
  • Augusta-Richmond County metro area in Georgia and South Carolina ranks third for the percentage of night-shift workers. The area has over 27,000 workers starting shifts between 4-11:59 p.m. and over 11,000 workers starting between 12-4:59 a.m.
  • Workers in leisure/hospitality (37 percent), transportation/utilities (26 percent), and wholesale/retail trade (25 percent) were more likely to work non-day schedules than other industries.

Demographic breakdown of shift workers

Various demographic factors correlate with a higher likelihood of working non-standard hours outside the typical 9-to-5 schedule. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the US Census Bureau provide insights into which groups are more likely to work evenings, nights, weekends, or other non-traditional schedules. The following highlights key statistics on how age, gender, education, earnings, and other attributes impact non-standard work hours.

  • 83.6% of all workers aged 15 and overworked a regular daytime schedule, while 16.4% worked a non-daytime schedule. Non-daytime schedules were most common among younger workers aged 15-24 (31.9%).
  • Younger workers were more likely to work non-daytime shifts - 31.9% of 15-24-year-olds worked non-daytime vs 15.3% of 55-64-year-olds.
  • Men were slightly more likely than women to work non-daytime hours (17.6% vs 15.2%).
  • Those with lower educational attainment had higher rates of non-day work, such as 19.9% for those without a high school diploma.
  • Workers with lower earnings were more likely to work non-daytime hours. For example, 21.2% of those earning less than the 25th percentile worked non-daytime vs 8.3% for those above the 75th percentile.
  • Younger workers aged 15-24 had the highest rate of working night shifts at 5.6%.
  • Black or African American workers had a night shift rate of 5.4%, higher than white workers at 3.2%.
  • Workers without a high school diploma had a 3.7% rate of working night shifts. The rate was lower for those with a bachelor's degree or higher education at 1.7%.
  • Women were slightly less likely than men to work non-day hours (15.2% vs 17.6%). Among those with non-day schedules, women were twice as likely as men to cite better arrangements for family as the reason (14% vs 7%).
  • Those without work schedule flexibility had higher rates of non-day work than those with flexibility (19.1% vs 14.3%).
  • Parents with only a high school education are more likely to work a nonstandard schedule.
  • Mothers more often report working a nonstandard schedule for family reasons.

Non-standard Work hours

The following data highlights the percentages of workers in selected fields who work nonstandard hours, including key evening (6 p.m. - 10 p.m.), night (11 p.m.- 3 a.m.), and early morning shifts (4-8 a.m.). These jobs showcase opportunities for night owls and early birds across industries like food service, healthcare, construction, and more.

These are data for evening work from 6 p.m.- 10 p.m.

  • 29% of workers were on the clock at 7 p.m. At 9 p.m., about 12% of workers were on the job.
  • Common evening occupations included arts/entertainment/media, food service, personal care, and sales.
  • 41% of food preparation and serving workers were on the evening shift from 6-10 p.m.
  • 27% of personal care and service workers worked evenings.
  • Retail sales and cashiers often worked evenings but less commonly until 10 p.m. when many stores close.
  • Musicians, directors, and broadcast technicians worked evenings to entertain/inform audiences.
  • Waiters, bartenders, and fast food workers covered dinner shifts.
  • Hairdressers, fitness trainers, and skincare specialists work evenings when clients have leisure time.

These are data for night shift work from 11 p.m.- 3 a.m.:

  • Police, fire departments, manufacturing plants, hospitals, nursing homes, and transportation/warehousing operate overnight and employ night shift workers.
  • 27% of healthcare practitioners and technical workers worked overnight. 19% of healthcare support workers, such as nursing assistants, worked overnight shifts.
  • While most registered nurses (both sexes) left home for work between 5 a.m. and 11:59 a.m. (72 percent), a sizable minority (19 percent) worked the evening or night shifts.
  • 18% of production workers, like bakers, assembly line workers, and machinists, worked overnight to maximize output.
  • 28% of protective service workers, including firefighters, police, and security guards, worked overnight for public safety.
  • 15% of transportation/material moving workers like truck drivers and air traffic controllers operated overnight to transport goods/people.

These are data points about early morning shift work from 4-8 a.m.:

  • 53% of farming/fishing/forestry workers, such as equipment operators and ranchers often start at or before dawn to work.
  • 33% of architecture/engineering workers were on the job by 7 a.m.
  • Over half of construction/extraction workers, like carpenters, operators, and roofers, were on the job by 7 a.m.
  • 28% of installation/maintenance/repair workers, such as aircraft mechanics, started early to fix equipment.

Trends in Shift Work

A 2023 survey conducted by Deputy provides insights into emerging trends among hourly shift workers across regions. The data reveals developments in areas like company support, employee voice, job satisfaction, worker concerns, and accommodating needs. While experiences vary by country, common themes emerge around improved workplace relations, health impacts, and the strong desire for flexibility. The following highlights key statistics pointing to noteworthy trends in the state of shift work and employee sentiment from the US, UK, and Australia/New Zealand. Though challenges remain, the data indicates progress in supportive company cultures and responsiveness to worker demands.

Company Support and Employee Voice

  • 69% of US hourly workers feel their managers consistently support them, 27% report occasional support, and 4% claim to never receive support
  • 65% of ANZ hourly workers feel consistent manager support, 32% report occasional support, and 3% claim to never receive support
  • 67% of UK hourly workers feel their managers consistently support them, 30% report occasional support, and 4% claim to never receive support
  • Manager support declined from 2020 to 2021 but rebounded in 2023 in ANZ (65% to 40% to 65%) and the UK (61% to 44% to 67%), while the US maintained higher support (75% to 54% to 69%)
  • In the UK, those who felt they could always voice opinions increased from 26% in 2021 to 36% in 2023
  • In the US, those who felt they could always voice opinions rose from 33% in 2021 to 44% in 2023
  • In ANZ, those who felt they could always voice opinions went from 31% in 2021 to 38% in 2023

Shift Workers' Job Satisfaction

  • 48% of US hourly workers said they love their job, 37% in ANZ, and 43% in the UK
  • 43% of UK hourly workers plan to stay in their current job, 26% want to grow at their current company, 13% switch industries, and 8% want to quit
  • In ANZ and UK, those planning to stay in their current job rose significantly from 31% and 28% in 2021 to 49% and 43% in 2023

Worker Concerns and What They Value

  • In the UK, 45% of hourly workers value the ability to fit in other commitments, 43% value flexibility, and 40% value customer/client interaction
  • 51% in the UK find appealing that hourly work allows fitting in commitments, 42% value the social/engaging aspect
  • 27% in the UK value choice over when they work, showing the importance of flexibility/autonomy
  • 29% of US hourly workers dislike health impacts like poor sleep from work
  • 24% in the US dislike lack of control over shifts
  • 25% in ANZ find unpredictable schedules a significant drawback
  • 26% in ANZ express concerns about the health impacts of hourly work
  • 20% in ANZ consider low pay a notable downside
  • 22% in the UK dislike lack of control over shifts
  • 23% in the UK express concerns about low pay
  • 24% in the UK are concerned about health impacts like poor sleep
  • 77% say employers accommodate shift preferences most/all the time, up from 22% in 2021

The Downsides of Shift Work

Working evening, night, rotating, or otherwise non-standard schedules pose various challenges beyond the immediate disruption of typical sleep and social patterns. Research continues to uncover negative effects on physical health, mental health, accident risk, and the ability to fulfill family and personal responsibilities. Surveys and studies consistently link shift work to issues like in

sufficient sleep, impaired glucose metabolism, depression, reduced safety, and work-life conflict across industries and occupations. While some choose these schedules voluntarily, many do so out of necessity and feel trapped in shifts that take a toll on their overall well-being. Though not uniformly negative, the data makes clear that appropriate policies and support are needed to protect those working outside the standard 9-to-5.

The following highlights key findings on the diverse downsides of non-traditional work hours.

  • According to the US. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey, full-time employed people get about 9.41 hours of personal care, including sleep, on average. And they spend 6.07 hours on work or work-related activities.
  • Preschool children were more likely to be cared for by their father if their mother worked night or evening shifts, compared to mothers who worked day shifts (42% vs 23% respectively).
  • From 2005 to 2011, the use of father care among Hispanic children with working mothers increased from 20% to 32%.
  • Parental nonstandard schedules are not negatively associated with children's school outcomes or extracurricular activities.
  • Many children live with a parent who works late or on weekends.
  • Parental nonstandard schedules do not appear to be negatively associated with children's school outcomes and extracurricular activities.
  • The potential negative effects of nonstandard schedules on parents' well-being were not analyzed but warrant future investigation.
  • Women report more sleepiness on shifts, but evidence of physiological differences is mixed.
  • Evidence suggests older workers tolerate shifts worse than younger workers.
  • Morning-type people have more difficulty adjusting to night shifts.
  • Rapid shift rotation, clockwise direction, and later morning start can help minimize negative effects.
  • Evidence mixed on whether 10-12 hour shifts should replace 8 hours.
  • Letting workers design their own schedules encourages good performance.

Shift Work and Accidents

  • Studies in the early 1900s showed reducing work hours from 55+ to 50-55 hours/week improved production quality and quantity.
  • Evidence suggests performance is poorer at night, but some tasks with high working memory adjust more rapidly to night work.
  • The link between fatigue/lowered performance and higher accident rates seems logical, but the evidence is mixed.
  • Some well-designed studies show increased accident risk at night and with long hours.
  • Accident peaks at 1000, 1100, 1300-1600 likely reflect work activity peaks, not circadian performance capability.
  • Historically, major accidents like Chernobyl and Challenger started in the early morning hours when workers were on long shifts.

Shift Work and Effects on Health

A recent evaluation by the National Toxicology Program highlights concerning trends related to night shift work, light exposure at night, and potential links to cancer. Key findings from the report indicate that:

  • Night shift work may contribute to almost 12,000 new breast cancer cases per year in the U.S. The link to breast cancer in black women is a research gap.
  • 90% of Americans use electronics before bed a few nights per week.
  • In 2016, over 99% of the U.S. population lived under light-polluted skies at night.
  • There is high confidence night shift work disrupting circadian rhythms causes breast cancer in women and may cause prostate cancer in men, especially when beginning in early adulthood.
  • There is moderate confidence that certain lighting conditions causing circadian disruption lead to cancer, defined as excessive light at night and insufficient daylight.

A survey of over 2,500 professional cleaners across 32 countries and 3 continents looked at the effects of shift work schedules on their health, well-being, and lives. Half of the cleaners surveyed work non-standard shifts outside of typical 9-5 day shifts. Statistical analysis of the survey results showed these non-day shift cleaners are markedly worse off than day shift cleaners.

  • Nearly 70% of night-shift cleaners reported insufficient sleep. Over half of the early morning and evening shift cleaners also reported insufficient sleep.
  • Around 45% of women working night shifts felt unsafe at work, with over a third reporting harassment at work and during their commute.
  • Evening and night shift schedules conflicted with cleaners' social and family lives more often than day shifts, especially relationships with children and partners.
  • 70% of non-day shift cleaners work those hours out of necessity, either due to higher wages or lack of day shift availability.
  • The survey highlighted an urgent need for cleaning companies, clients, and policymakers to promote daytime cleaning shifts.

A study published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science correlates night shift work and diabetes risk:

  • Night work increases diabetes risk due to misalignment between the central circadian clock and daily behaviors typical in night workers, which impairs glucose tolerance
  • Misalignment between central and peripheral circadian rhythms and impaired glucose tolerance occurred with simulated night work when eating at nighttime
  • Restricting meals to daytime prevented misalignment of circadian rhythms and impaired glucose tolerance from simulated night work.
  • In human shift workers, females showed stronger circadian rhythmicity in activity and lower incidence of metabolic syndrome compared to males
  • The results suggest sexual dimorphism in cardiometabolic disease risk from shift work, with males more prone to developing metabolic disease

Shift Work and Depression and Anxiety

In a cohort study published by the National Library of Medicine and analyzed between November 2022 and January 2023, a survey was conducted among 175543 employed or self-employed workers who participated in the UK Biobank baseline survey (2006-2010).

  • The study included 175,543 employed or self-employed workers from the UK Biobank baseline survey (2006-2010).
  • 27,637 participants (16.2%) reported doing shift work.
  • Over 9 years of median follow-up, 3,956 workers (2.3%) developed depression, and 2,838 (1.7%) developed anxiety.
  • Shift workers had a 22% higher risk of depression (HR 1.22) and a 16% higher risk of anxiety (HR 1.16) compared to non-shift workers.
  • Risk was positively associated with shift work frequency, but no difference between night vs non-night shifts.
  • Years of shift work were negatively associated with the risk of depression and anxiety.
  • Smoking, sedentary time, BMI, and sleep duration were identified as modifiable risk mediators, explaining 31.3% of shift work-depression association and 21.2% of shift work-anxiety association.

Conclusion

The statistics on shift work in the United States paint a concerning picture of the impacts these non-standard schedules have on workers. While only 16% of wage and salary employees work evening, night, or rotating shifts, these schedules take a disproportionate toll. Industries like manufacturing and hospitality have high rates of overnight work, while younger workers are most likely to have irregular hours. The data shows shift workers face increased risks of insufficient sleep, chronic health issues, accidents, and work-life conflict.

While some welcome the higher wages or sense of necessity driving these shifts, many feel trapped in schedules that disrupt sleep and endanger safety. Companies and policymakers must take steps to promote standard daytime hours when plausible and provide the support and flexibility needed to protect shift workers' well-being. Though not uniformly negative, the research makes clear that appropriate protections are needed for the millions laboring outside 9-to-5. Shift workers keep essential operations running through the night, often to their own detriment, and deserve consideration.

FAQ

What percentage of US wage and salary workers have non-standard schedules? 
16% of US wage and salary workers have non-standard schedules outside a regular 9-5. This includes evening, night, rotating, and other shifts.

Which industries have high rates of night shift work?
Industries with high rates of night work include manufacturing (5.7%), transportation/utilities (6.3%), and leisure/hospitality (2.6%).

Which age group has the highest rates of non-standard shift work? 
Younger workers aged 15-24 have the highest rates of non-standard shifts at 31.9%.

Are men or women more likely to work non-day shifts?
Men work slightly more non-day shifts than women (17.6% vs 15.2%).

Which US city has the most night shift workers? 
Las Vegas has the most night shift workers in the US at 16.5% due to its 24-hour entertainment industry.

What do shift workers value most in their schedules?
Survey data shows shift workers value schedule flexibility and the ability to fit in other commitments. Lack of control over shifts is a top concern.

What are some health impacts linked to shift work?
Research links shift work to health issues like insufficient sleep, impaired glucose metabolism, cancer risk, and depression.

What can encourage good performance for shift workers? 
Allowing shift workers to design their own schedules can encourage good performance and adaptation.

What percentage of healthcare practitioners work overnight shifts?
27% of healthcare practitioners work overnight shifts.

Do men and women report differences in tolerating shift work? 
Women report more sleepiness on shifts, but evidence of physiological differences is mixed.

What can help minimize the negative effects of shift work?
Rapid rotations, clockwise shifts, and late starts help minimize negative effects.

What percentage of the U.S. faces light pollution at night?
In 2016, over 99% of the U.S. population lived under light-polluted skies at night.

How can restricting meals help night shift workers?
Restricting meals to daytime prevented circadian disruption from simulated night work.

What industries have high non-day shift work? 
Industries like leisure/hospitality (36.8%), transportation/utilities (26%), and wholesale/retail trade (25.4%) have high non-day rates.

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