Low-Wage Work

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The Labor Center conducts a wide range of research on low-wage work in California and nationally. Our research focuses on documenting and understanding working conditions in low-wage industries, especially for women, immigrants, and workers of color. We also analyze policies to raise labor standards at the local, state, and national levels.

For an in-depth description of California’s low-wage workforce, see our Data Explorer.

View our Inventory of US City and County Minimum Wage Ordinances.

You can also visit our Black Worker project.

Minimum wage, living wage, and other labor standards studies.

Research on the societal and fiscal costs of low-wage work.

In-depth studies of labor markets and working conditions in low-wage industries.

Research & Publications

Inventory of US City and County Minimum Wage Ordinances

Across the country, cities and counties have become laboratories of policy innovation on labor standards. Before 2012, only five localities had minimum wage laws; currently, 56 counties and cities do. To help inform policymakers and other stakeholders, the UC Berkeley Labor Center is maintaining an up-to-date inventory of these laws, with details on wage levels, scheduled increases, and other law details, as well as links to the ordinances.

Steve Viscelliand Eric Balcom

Ensuring the Supply of Agricultural Truck Drivers: What the State of California Can Do

This report is the first in-depth look at the labor market for agricultural truck drivers in California and the first study of this workforce anywhere in the U.S. in almost 30 years. It found that better efforts in recruiting and training drivers would ease turnover and improve job satisfaction, particularly for agricultural trucking, which is critical to California’s economy but can often be seasonal or require specialized equipment.

Press Coverage


The cost of higher wages in California

Sen. María Elena Durazo, the Los Angeles Democrat who wrote the bill, points to data from the UC Berkeley Labor Center that anticipates how the new law could save money by helping workers avoid using public assistance. Better pay also means some relief with staffing issues, healthcare workers argue, which would benefit patients too.

Westside Connect

Bountiful harvest puts trucking capacity to the test

A first-of-its-kind report published last month by the University of California, Berkeley, Labor Center, titled “Ensuring the Supply of Agricultural Truck Drivers,” used California’s tomato harvest to illustrate why finding sufficient drivers can be so hard.

Program Contacts

Enrique Lopezlira

Director, Low-Wage Work Program

Annette Bernhardt

Director, Technology and Work Program

Aida Farmand

Policy Research Specialist

Savannah Hunter

Policy Research Associate

Seema Patel

Practitioner in Residence