Low wages and exploitative practices in the resident construction industry cause profound hardship for workers and their families. It also costs the public. This analysis finds almost half of families of construction workers in California are enrolled in a safety net program at an annual cost of over $3 billion. By comparison, just over a third of all California workers have a family member enrolled in one or more safety net program.
Public Cost of Low-Wage Work
The Labor Center conducts research on the societal and fiscal costs that the public bears when employers pay low wages.
Research & Publications
The study, by Ken Jacobs and Kuochih Huang of the UC Berkeley Labor Center, finds that almost half of the families of construction workers in California are enrolled in a safety net program at an annual cost of over $3 billion in public funds. By comparison, just over a third of all California workers have a family member enrolled in one or more safety net programs.
The ultimate impact AB 257 will have on the state budget will depend on to-be-made decisions by the council. But even with a small increase in fast-food workers’ wages resulting from the bill, the net fiscal effect is likely to be positive for the state.
This data brief estimates the public cost to Delaware and the federal government from the use of safety net programs among low-wage working families who would be directly affected by an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. We find that just over half of these Delaware families (51%) are enrolled in at least one safety net program, at an annual cost of $700 million.
This article, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, discusses research that used natural experiments to measure downstream effects that are clearly caused by changes in family income. There is strong evidence of a causal effect of higher net income on child development, including math and reading test scores, educational attainment, birth weight, mental health, and health in adulthood.
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.
A new report by UCLA and UC Berkeley finds that working conditions in the Los Angeles fast-food industry lead to an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission in communities of color as well as high public costs.
The Raise the Wage Act, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2019, proposes a national $15 minimum wage to be fully implemented in 2025. This paper looks at the cost of five public safety net programs for families of workers who would receive a direct wage increase under this bill. We find that close to half of these families (47%) are enrolled in at least one program, at an annual cost of $107 billion.
The study finds that nationally, the families of close to half the workers who would benefit from the Raise the Wage Act are enrolled in a public safety net program because their jobs don’t pay enough to make ends meet – at an annual cost of $107 billion in public funds.
This data brief estimates the public cost to Georgia and the federal government from the use of safety net programs by low-wage working families who would be directly affected by an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. We find that just over half of these Georgia families (51%) are enrolled in at least one safety net program, at an annual cost of $4.7 billion.
Study: Low Georgia Wages Cost Taxpayers $4.7 billion. Families of more than half of Georgia workers who would receive pay increases under a $15 minimum wage are enrolled in a public safety net program.
In decades past, production workers employed in manufacturing earned wages significantly higher than the U.S. average, but by 2013 the typical manufacturing production worker made 7.7 percent below the median wage for all occupations.
Article published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, spring 2016 issue of Communities & Banking Introduction. Stagnating wages are causing many working families to end up on public assistance.…
Working families comprise nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of enrollments in America’s major public benefits programs and account for 63 percent of total program costs.1 The paychecks of many low-wage workers…
Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the other public benefits programs discussed in this report provide a vital support system for millions of Americans working in the United States’ service industries, including fast food. We analyze public program utilization by working families and estimate total average annual public benefit expenditures on the families of front-line fast-food workers for the years 2007–2011.
©2007 Labor and Employment Relations Association, Champaign IL. Posted with permission of the publisher. From “The Hidden Cost of Jobs without Health Care Benefits,” by Ken Jacobs, Perspectives on Work,…
178,000 Wisconsin families that earn low wages still need public assistance even though they are working all year round. The federal and state costs of programs to support these workers are substantial: $837 million per year. A new report from the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS), When Work Doesn’t Pay, takes a close look at the “hidden public costs” of low wage jobs.
This report takes a closer look at the “hidden public costs” of low wage jobs. These costs are both hidden and public because the community directly and indirectly pays in order to fill in the gap between what work pays and what families need.