children playing

It's more than poverty: Employment precarity and household well-being

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version
Lewchuk, Wayne; Lafleche, Michelynn; Dyson, Diane; Goldring, Luin ; Meisner, Alan; Procyk, Stephanie; Rosen, Dan; Shields, John; Viducis, Peter & Vrankulj, Sam
Publication Date: 
25 Feb 2013


It’s More than Poverty expands the discussion of the social consequences of Canada’s polarizing income distribution by examining the effects of precarious employment on people’s lives. It explores how employment precarity and income together shape social outcomes. What makes this issue all the more important is our finding that barely 50% of people in our study are in jobs that are both permanent and full-time.

Precarity has real implications for economic well-being and job security. But it also reaches out and touches family and social life. It can affect how people socialize, and how much they are able to give back to their communities. It can cause tensions at home. The It’s More than Poverty  report puts a special focus on how precarious employment affects household well-being and community connections.

The It’s More than Poverty report draws its data from two main sources. The first is a specially commissioned survey that examined the characteristics of employment in the GTA-Hamilton labour market. We refer to this as the PEPSO survey.

The second is a series of interviews with people from our communities who work in precarious employment. Throughout this report, you will see sample quotations from our interview  participants, describing the experience of precarity.


Precarious employment makes it more difficult to raise children.

While most parents make heroic efforts to provide for their children and to put food on the table, there is evidence of increasing stress as a result of insecure employment.
We find:

• Low-income households are the most likely to report problems buying school supplies, paying for school trips, and financing children's activities outside of school.
• Insecure employment significantly increases the problem of paying for these expenses within low- and middle-income households.
• Those in low-income households are least likely to report that they attend school-related meetings or volunteer at children's activities outside of school.
• People in insecure employment in middle-income households are affected too. They are just as unlikely to volunteer at children's activities outside of school as are people in low-income households with insecure employment.
• Finding appropriate child care is more difficult for low- and middle-income households in insecure employment.

Related links:

Workers with unstable jobs left behind by outdated social programs: Editorial, Toronto Star, 26 Feb 13