Labor Center


Public Cost of Low-Wage Work


Labor Center Reports


Research Index


Recent Research



Bay Area Issues & Studies

Black Workers

California Budget and Economy

Developmental Disabilities

Global Labor

Green Jobs

Health Care

High Road Partnerships

Home Care

Immigrant Workers

Job Quality Trends

Labor Law

Living Wage

Minimum Wage

Organizing

Public Cost

Restaurant & Tourism

Retail

Retirement Security

Social Movement Unionism

Union Difference

Union Pension Investing

Wal-Mart

Workers’ Rights

Working Women

Young Workers



Labor Center Reports on the Public Cost of Low-Wage Work

Fast Food, Poverty WagesFast Food, Poverty Wages: The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the Fast-Food Industry
October 15, 2013, by Sylvia Allegretto, Marc Doussard, Dave Graham-Squire, Ken Jacobs, Dan Thompson and Jeremy Thompson

This report estimates the public costs of low-wage jobs in the fast-food industry. Due to the combination of low wages, meager benefits, and often part-time hours, many of the families of fast-food workers must rely on taxpayer funded safety net programs to make ends meet. For this analysis we focus on jobs held by core, front-line fast-food workers, defined as non-managerial workers who work at least 10 hours per week for 27 or more weeks a year. The median wage for this workforce is $8.69 an hour. Only 13 percent of the jobs provide health benefits. We found that 52 percent of the families of core front-line fast-food workers are enrolled in one or more public safety-net programs at a cost of nearly $7 billion a year.

 


When Work Doesn't Pay: The Hidden Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in Wisconsin When Work Doesn't Pay: The Hidden Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in Wisconsin
December 2006, by the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, with the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education
» Report PDF
» Press Release PDF

Analysis of the use of social safety net programs in Wisconsin by the working poor. This study replicated the research conducted in California for the report The Hidden Public Cost of Low-Wage Work in California (below).


The Hidden Public Cost of Low-Wage Work in Illinois
September 2006, by Nik Theodore and Marc Doussard, with the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education
» Report
» Methodology

Analysis of the use of social safety net programs in Illinois by the working poor. This study replicated the research conducted in California for the report The Hidden Public Cost of Low-Wage Work in California (below).


Internal Wal-Mart Memo Validates Findings of UC Berkeley Study
October 2005, by Arindrajit Dube, Ken Jacobs and Steve Wertheim
» Memo PDF

The Labor Center’s report, Hidden Cost of Wal-Mart Jobs, PDF found that Wal-Mart workers disproportionately rely on taxpayer funded public health programs in California compared to workers in large retail as a whole. An internal Wal-Mart memo reported on in The New York Times provides data from Wal-Mart validates the basic findings of that UC Berkeley report. This research note highlights this confirming evidence, focusing on workers’ and dependent children’s health coverage.


Hidden Cost of Wal-Mart Jobs: Use of Safety Net Programs by Wal-Mart Workers in California Hidden Cost of Wal-Mart Jobs: Use of Safety Net Programs by Wal-Mart Workers in California
August 2004, by Arindrajit Dube and Ken Jacobs
» Report
» Authors' Response to Wal-Mart's Statements
» Press Coverage

This widely publicized report finds Wal-Mart’s wage and health benefits packages for its California workers to be below average as compared to the overall retail sector in California. The authors also find a greater reliance upon public assistance programs among Wal-Mart workers as compared to other California retail workers. Finally, the authors estimate the additional costs to taxpayers of “Wal-Martization”—the adoption of Wal-Mart’s wage and health benefits standards by retailers throughout California.


Wage and Health Benefit Restructuring in California’s Grocery Industry: Public Costs and Policy Implications
July 2004, by Arindarjit Dube and Alex Lantsberg
» Report
» Summary

This study analyzes the 2004 labor agreement between southern California grocers and employees, and examines the implications for grocery workers statewide as well. The authors predict that the agreement will result in the loss of employer-sponsored health insurance for one-third to one-half of the sector’s employees. The ensuing shift to public health care plans and emergency room care will translate to greatly increased costs to taxpayers, effectively transferring the burden from employers to the public. The authors conclude with policy solutions to this looming problem.


The Hidden Public Costs of Low-Wage Jobs in California The Hidden Public Costs of Low-Wage Jobs in California
November 2004, by Carol Zabin, Arindrajit Dube and Ken Jacobs, The State of California Labor 2004, University of California Institute for Labor and Employment. Paper 01.
» Report
» Report Summary
» Press Coverage

This report highlights the considerable number of working families in California’s public assistance programs, providing demographic and employment profiles of the families. The authors simulate various policy changes—including wage floors and universal employer-sponsored health insurance—and calculate the reductions in public assistance program costs flowing from the decreased reliance upon the programs. Finally, the authors survey policies and economic development strategies designed to alleviate the problem of low-wage employment.


Working Family Members on Medi-Cal: Enrollment and Cost by Industry and Size of Employers Working Family Members on Medi-Cal: Enrollment and Cost by Industry and Size of Employers
August 2003, by Arindrajit Dube
» Research Brief

This report calculates the number of people enrolled in Medi-Cal who are also members of working families. The report also calculates the costs to the state of working-family member enrollment in Medi-Cal, and identifies the industries whose employees are disproportionately represented in the Medi-Cal system.


The California Healthcare Crisis: Impact on California Economy and BudgetThe California Healthcare Crisis: Impact on California Economy and Budget
2002, by Arindrajit Dube
» Powerpoint Presentation

A slide-show presentation of facts documenting the negative fiscal impacts to the State of California of the current state healthcare system.
 
Center for Labor Research and Education
2521 Channing Way # 5555
Berkeley, CA 94720-5555
TEL (510) 642-0323    FAX (510) 642-6432


A public service and outreach program of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment
CLRE