Time, more than money, appears to influence whether service sector employees end up turning to so-called predatory lenders.

A study by Washington State University and Harvard University researchers found service employees’ unpredictable work schedules played more of a role in their reliance on high-cost debt than their income. Service employees work in industries such as retail, food service, grocery and hospitality as well as delivery and fulfillment – with many in the study sample working for the nation’s largest retail employers, Amazon and Walmart.

Mariana Amorim.

“The experience of schedule volatility is pretty common among service sector workers,” said Mariana Amorim, WSU sociologist and lead author on the study in the journal Sociological Science. “We found that the more schedule volatility people experienced, the more likely they were to take out expensive loans, such as those from pawn shops and auto-title lenders—or they use credit cards in ways that are problematic.”

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