Future of Work & Workers

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The Labor Center conducts in-depth research on how work is changing in the US labor market, especially for low-wage workers, women, immigrants, and workers of color. Our research helps policymakers, unions, and other stakeholders respond to the challenges and opportunities facing workers in the years ahead. We consider both new and ongoing trends, including technological change, outsourcing, and gig work.

The impact of new technologies in the workplace, and how workers and public policy can respond

Independent contracting, gig work, and employee misclassification

Fissured workplaces, subcontracting, and effects on wages and job quality

Research & Publications

RELEASE: Technological change in five industries: Threats to jobs, wages, and working conditions

The UC Berkeley Labor Center has released a report on how and why employers in key industries are deploying new technologies, and what effects these changes could have on workers. The report, “Technological change in five industries: Threats to jobs, wages, and working conditions,” synthesizes the findings from studies released by the Labor Center and Working Partnerships USA from 2018 to 2022. The report concludes that technology’s effects on job quality – like wages and working conditions – should be just as big of a concern as its effects on the total number of jobs available.

Press Coverage

Barron's

Will Robots Replace Humans At Amazon?

A 2019 study by the University of California’s Labor Center at Berkeley warned that while some technologies can alleviate arduous warehouse tasks, they could also contribute to increasing the “workload and pace of work.”

Capital & Main

How Millions of Gig Workers Could Be Impacted by a New Labor Rule

Under Biden’s proposed rule, “There is a very strong case that gig workers are misclassified,” Jacobs wrote in an email to Capital & Main. “The proposed rule would make it easier to prove misclassification in industries with a long history of misclassification, like janitorial, trucking and construction.”

HR Dive

Surveillance, AI tech may violate labor laws, NLRB general counsel says

The memo cited a variety of research, legal cases and news stories on the subject. One citation is a 2021 report from researchers at the University of California at Berkeley Labor Center that detailed the use of data and algorithms to analyze worker productivity, automate hiring processes and monitor activity.

Current Affairs

The Boss is Watching

As Kresge observes, unions in the U.S. are currently in the throes of negotiating for limitations on how data can be used by employers and against the unnecessary uses of countless surveillance technologies in the workplace

Program Contacts