About D.C.’s Service Sector

The number of people working in the service sector in D.C., representing 19 percent of all employment.

The median age of service sector employees in D.C.


The percentage of service sector employees who are Black or Latino.

In “Unpredictable, Unsustainable: The Impact of Employers’ Scheduling Practices in D.C.,” a May 2015 study on service sector scheduling practices in D.C., researchers found that erratic and unpredictable hours, combined with low wages, negatively impact employees and their families.

  • Low Pay is Common: The typical service sector employee in D.C. works 32 hours each week at a pay rate of $10 per hour, which results in an annual income of approximately $16,000.
  • More Hours Needed: Four out of five people surveyed said it was very important or somewhat important that they receive more hours.
  • Lack of Advance Notice: Nearly half of all employees surveyed said they first learned about their work schedules less than one week in advance. And one-third of those surveyed received their initial work schedules with less than three days’ notice.
  • Part-Time Work, Full-Time Availability: 60 percent of individuals said they must always be available to fulfill any assigned work schedule—regardless of the days or hours—in order to be considered for full-time hours or the best shifts available.
  • Life On Hold For On-Call Shifts: Individuals assigned on-call/call-in shifts appear to have a 50/50 chance of getting paid to work, despite holding time for their employers.



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