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.
Future of Work & Workers
Labor Center Leadership
Unions & Worker Organizations
Area of Expertise
Labor Standards Policies
Public Policy and Unions
Ken Jacobs is the chair of the Labor Center, where he has been a labor specialist since 2002. His areas of specialization include low-wage work, labor standards policies, and health care coverage. He has recently worked on economic impact studies of proposed minimum wage laws for the cities of Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Jose, and conducted analyses of the public cost of low-wage work. Jacobs is the co-editor, with Michael Reich and Miranda Dietz, of When Mandates Work: Raising Labor Standards at the Local Level (University of California Press), an edited volume on the impacts of labor standards policies in San Francisco. Jacobs leads a multi-campus program providing research and technical assistance to consumer stakeholders and policy makers on the effects of the Affordable Care Act and measures to cover the remaining uninsured in California. Along with colleagues at UC Berkeley and UCLA, he is consulting for Covered California on issues related to ACA implementation. His work has been covered in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and National Public Radio.
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.
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.
California’s Health Coverage Gains under the Affordable Care Act: What’s at Stake in California v. Texas?
This fact sheet highlights the key health coverage gains made in California under the state’s robust implementation of the ACA since it was enacted over 10 years ago. These achievements show how much is at stake in California v. Texas, the case the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on November 10, 2020, under which the ACA could be overturned.
The Effects of Proposition 22 on Driver Earnings: Response to a Lyft-Funded Report by Dr. Christopher Thornberg
Thornberg over-estimates driver gross earnings (before expenses) based on data that is not representative of drivers in California. He also underestimates driver costs. In doing so, he significantly overstates what drivers earn on net now, and would earn under Proposition 22.
Ken Jacobs, UC Berkeley Labor Center chair, says confusion is by design. “Many of them thought they were voting to increase gig workers’ pay,” he says. “The $200 million allowed the companies to confuse the issue.”
“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.
Economist Ken Jacobs, chair of the UC Berkeley Labor Center, explained this week: Beyond the working families who will get a raise, every single American taxpayer has a stake in raising the minimum wage. When corporations like McDonald’s pay poverty wages, workers often turn to public safety net programs to make ends meet.
The Raise The Wage Act will give 32 million working people a much-needed raise. Increasing the minimum wage is an urgent, necessary step that President Joe Biden and Congress must take to combat the nation’s pandemic-induced economic crises.
Ken Jacobs said, “An economic downturn is an important time to undergird and set a strong floor for wages, to keep families’ income and to keep workers’ incomes up and to stop a ruinous drive down.”