American employers are increasingly taking advantage of a still-weak job market to subject employees to unpredictable schedules, making it difficult for workers to make plans outside their jobs. In a recent survey of more than 400 New York City retail workers, researchers with the City University of New York and an advocacy group called the Retail Action Project found that only 17 percent of workers had a set schedule; 70 percent said they were apprised of their schedules no more than a week ahead of time.

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