COVID-19 Series: Resources, Data, and Analysis for California

UC Berkeley Labor Center

At the federal, state, and local levels, expansive new policy is being developed and implemented to address the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating effects on workers, businesses, and the economy generally. The Labor Center is working to provide research on how California specifically is experiencing the pandemic; analysis of what these new policies offer the state’s workers and businesses–and what is still needed; and curated lists of resources, information, and tools for workers and their advocates.


REPORT: The Fast-Food Industry and COVID-19 in Los Angeles

March 2, 2021 | Kuochih Huang, Ken Jacobs, Tia Koonse, Ian Eve Perry, Kevin Riley, Laura Stock and Saba Waheed
Over the last decade, fast-food restaurants have proliferated in the United States, with the largest increase in Los Angeles County. Fast food is an integral part of the food sector in Los Angeles, comprising nearly 150,000 restaurant workers. This report investigates working conditions in fast food prior to the pandemic, profiles the industry’s demographics and cost to the public, and examines the impact of COVID-19 on the sector.

BRIEF: Physical Proximity to Others in California’s Workplaces: Occupational Estimates and Demographic and Job Characteristics

November 30, 2020 | by Kuochih Huang, Tom Lindman, Annette Bernhardt and Sarah Thomason
In this research brief, we build on our previous research on essential workers, but use new data and broaden the analysis to the full range of occupations in the California labor market to help answer these questions: As the economy reopens, what levels of COVID-19 exposure risk will workers face when they return to their workplace? What are the demographic characteristics of these workers? And what jobs do they hold?

REPORT: Public Sector Impacts of the Great Recession and COVID-19

June 19, 2020; updated October 21, 2020 | by Sara Hinkley
This brief summarizes the Great Recession’s impact on public employment and the public sector job losses driven by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Our analysis points to the importance of focusing on the public sector as policymakers respond to the COVID-19 crisis. See also our webinar discussion.

REPORT: Workers and the COVID-19 Recession: Trends in UI Claims & Benefits, Jobs, and Unemployment

August 18, 2020 | by Sylvia Allegretto and Bryce LiedtkeThe COVID-19 crisis that hit the world and the United States has resulted in profound changes to our way of life. While this paper focuses on workers and economic effects, we note that the crisis is foremost one of a pandemic. The economic situation is a byproduct. Public policy and investment will largely determine our rates of sickness, death and economic pain.

REPORT: Economic and Health Benefits of a PPE Stockpile

August 12, 2020 | by William Dow, Kevin Lee, and Laurel Lucia
California Senate Bill 275 as amended in July 2020 would require the state to create a PPE stockpile sufficient to protect healthcare and other essential workers for at least 90-days of a future pandemic or health emergency. Drawing on what we have learned from the current pandemic, in this issue brief we outline the potential economic and health benefits of such a PPE stockpile.

REPORT: Workers as Health Monitors: An Assessment of LA County’s Workplace Public Health Council Proposal

July 21, 2020 | by Ken Jacobs, Tia Koonse, and Jennifer Ray
This report examines the costs and benefits of an innovative LA County proposal to recruit frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19 transmission. The proposal requires businesses to permit employees to form public safety councils who meet with management to plan and troubleshoot compliance and report regularly to the DPH. Workers who participate would be free from retaliation. The DPH in turn would designate organizations to convene, train, and assist public health councils to spot and report violations.

BLOG: Fiscal Impacts of COVID-19 and California’s Economy

May 14, 2020 | by Sara Hinkley
On May 14, the Governor of California released his revised budget proposal for 2020-21 projecting a revenue decline of 22.3% and a $54.3 billion shortfall. Many cities, counties, and school districts have already begun budgeting for the coming fiscal year and face similar deficits. How will these fiscal impacts affect California’s economic recovery? In this post we examine the likely impacts of the pandemic on local budgets, the factors still unknown, and the principles that must guide California’s response to this ongoing crisis.

BLOG: Front-line Essential Jobs in California: A Profile of Job and Worker Characteristics

May 14, 2020 | by Sarah Thomason and Annette Bernhardt
In this blog, the authors identify essential jobs via California’s list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers,” and then profile these jobs in terms of the prevalence of low-wage work and their demographic characteristics, focusing on front-line occupations that are likely to be most at risk of workplace exposure.

REPORT: Health Coverage of California Workers Most at Risk of Job Loss due to COVID-19

May 8, 2020 | by Laurel Lucia, Kevin Lee, Ken Jacobs, and Gerald F. Kominski
This data brief examines which types of health insurance, if any, the workers most at risk of job loss had prior to this crisis. The authors then use this analysis to inform their estimate that for every 100,000 California workers losing their jobs due to the pandemic, up to 67,000 workers, spouses, and children are at risk of losing job-based coverage.

REPORT: Taking the High Road

May 1, 2020
From the High Road Training Partnerships initiative, this brief provides an overview of the problem-solving infrastructure of HRTPs, and how they can address multiple contemporaneous challenges with strategies designed to support economic and environmental resilience in industries and communities. The brief provides a special emphasis on the ways in which HRTPs are able to help workers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

BLOG: Industries at Direct Risk of Job Loss from COVID-19 in California: A Profile of Front-Line Job and Worker Characteristics

April 10, 2020 | by Sarah Thomason, Nari Rhee, and Annette Bernhardt
The authors focus on potential differences in the economic impacts on California’s workers by analyzing major industries that are at highest risk of job losses or hours reduction stemming from social distancing and public health directives to slow the spread of COVID-19. They profile these industries in terms of the prevalence of low-wage work and demographic characteristics of the workforce, focusing on front-line occupations that are likely to be the first to experience hours reductions or outright job loss.

BLOG: Time to Act for Workers: Critical State and Local Policies to Respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic

March 24, 2020 | by Nari Rhee, Annette Bernhardt, Ken Jacobs, and Laurel Lucia
This blog post first identifies the industries most directly at risk of jobs loss and then outlines principles for state and local policy responses to this crisis, highlighting immediate policy priorities.



California’s Labor Market in the Time of COVID-19

Last updated: 5/18/2022
This data tool tracks the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers in California, and how the state is recovering from these effects. The pandemic left millions of Californians out of work, and while the economy has begun to recover in recent months, some workers continue to struggle. This resource will be updated periodically, as new data becomes available, to allow users to monitor the progress of labor markets in the state.

COVID-19: Local Labor Standard Policies in California

Last updated: 3/7/2022
List of California city and county ordinances, proclamations, mayoral directives, and orders that expand labor standards for workers affected by the pandemic, such as paid sick leave, health care, worker retention/right of return, and policies that lift workers’ voices in firm, industry, and government responses to the pandemic.

Commentary: Paid sick leave will help protect us in this pandemic

February 18, 2021 | by Laura Stock and Ken Jacobs in CalMatters
“Business as usual” when it comes to paid sick leave won’t work in a pandemic. It’s time to extend a clear, strong and unequivocal paid sick safety net to all workers. Here are five compelling reasons California’s leaders must renew supplemental paid sick leave to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 and Technology at Work

Last updated: 6/8/2020
A compilation of media accounts of different ways that employers and workers are using technology in response to COVID-19.

COVID-19: Resources on Federal and State Policy and Assistance

Last updated: 7/1/2020
Annotated list of resources, includes information on assistance for immigrants, gig workers, and small businesses and non-profits, as well as links to health care and housing assistance.

COVID-19: Understanding Federal Legislation

Last updated: 7/1/2020
Annotated list of resources for understanding and utilizing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFRCA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Modified Adjusted Gross Income under the Affordable Care Act – UPDATED WITH INFORMATION FOR COVID-19 POLICIES

Last updated: 3/23/2021
Fact sheet summarizing relevant federal regulations for calculating MAGI for use in applying for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

WEBINAR: Local strategies to protect public jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic

September 16, 2020
The UC Berkeley Labor Center hosted this webinar to discuss local strategies to protect public jobs and explore alternatives to local austerity. From February to July, California lost 33,000 state government jobs and 160,000 local government jobs. The pandemic-induced downturn has caused most local revenue sources to plummet, putting thousands of people out of work and jeopardizing vital services during a public health crisis. Panelists discussed the importance of local governments drawing on reserves and developing new progressive revenue streams, and the state and federal actions that could prevent significant local government job loss.

WEBINAR: Public Sector Impacts of the Great Recession and COVID-19

June 25, 2020
The UC Berkeley Labor Center hosted this webinar to discuss our June 22 data brief and a forthcoming blog post, “California’s public sector: lessons from the Great Recession for the COVID-19 response.” We discussed the impact of the Great Recession on public sector employment, the importance of the public sector to economic recovery, and the impacts of COVID-19 on public sector workers. As the state and local governments face significant revenue losses and COVID-19 expenditures, we highlight some important lessons for policymakers about the negative impacts of austerity on long-term economic recovery.

WEBINAR: COVID-19 Impacts on the California Economy

April 28, 2020
The UC Berkeley Labor Center and SEIU California co-hosted a panel discussion of the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on state and local governments. The webinar was to provide California labor and community leaders an opportunity to understand the potential fiscal impacts of COVID-19, policy efforts to promote fiscal recovery, and the implications for the local and state workforce going into the 2020-21 fiscal year.