Ken
Jacobs

Program Areas

Future of Work & Workers

Health Care

Labor Center Leadership

Low-Wage Work

Unions & Worker Organizations

Area of Expertise

Labor standards policies
Health care
Public policy and unions

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About Ken

Ken Jacobs is the chair of the University of California, Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, where he has been a labor specialist since 2002. His areas of focus include low-wage work, labor standards policies, sectoral wage setting, and health care coverage. Recent research includes analyses of California Proposition 22 and drivers’ earnings, worker misclassification, and the effect unions on wages and benefits; prospective studies of proposed city and state minimum wage laws; the relationship between wages, turnover, security, and safety at U.S. airports; the economic benefits of care work; and 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 from University of California Press. Jacobs led a multi-campus program providing research and technical assistance to unions, consumer stakeholders, and policymakers on the effects of the Affordable Care Act and measures to cover the remaining uninsured.  His work has been covered in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and National Public Radio.

    Ken Jacobs, Kuochih Huang, Jenifer MacGillvaryand Enrique Lopezlira

    The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the Arizona Construction Industry

    In this research brief we provide estimates of safety net use among families of construction workers in Arizona. We find that 45% of families of construction workers in Arizona are enrolled in one or more safety net programs at a cost to the state and the federal government of over $700 million per year. By comparison, among all Arizona workers, 32% have a family member enrolled in one or more safety net programs. Over one-third (36%) of construction workers lack health insurance, almost three times the rate for all workers in Arizona (13%).

    Ken Jacobs, Kuochih Huang, Jenifer MacGillvaryand Enrique Lopezlira

    The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the Georgia Construction Industry

    In this research brief we provide estimates of safety net use among families of construction workers in Georgia. We find that 44% of families of construction workers in Georgia are enrolled in one or more safety net programs at a cost to the state and the federal government of approximately $400 million per year. By comparison, among all Georgia workers, 33% have a family member enrolled in one or more safety net programs. Nearly half (49%) of construction workers lack health insurance, more than three times the rate for all workers in Georgia (15%).

    Ken Jacobs, Kuochih Huang, Jenifer MacGillvaryand Enrique Lopezlira

    The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the Michigan Construction Industry

    In this research brief we provide estimates of safety net use among families of construction workers in Michigan. We find that 35% of families of construction workers in Michigan are enrolled in one or more safety net programs at a cost to the state and the federal government of almost half a billion dollars per year. By comparison, among all Michigan workers, 30% have a family member enrolled in one or more safety net programs. Twenty percent of construction workers lack health insurance, almost three times the rate for all workers in Michigan (7%).

    Ken Jacobs, Kuochih Huang, Jenifer MacGillvaryand Enrique Lopezlira

    The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the Nevada Construction Industry

    In this research brief we provide estimates of safety net use among families of construction workers in Nevada. We find that 42% of families of construction workers in Nevada are enrolled in one or more safety net programs at a cost to the state and the federal government of over a quarter of a billion dollars per year. By comparison, among all Nevada workers, 33% have a family member enrolled in one or more safety net programs. Over one-third (35%) of construction workers lack health insurance, compared to 13% of all workers in Nevada.

    Ken Jacobs, Kuochih Huang, Jenifer MacGillvaryand Enrique Lopezlira

    The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the New Hampshire Construction Industry

    In this research brief we provide estimates of safety net use among families of construction workers in New Hampshire. We find that 22% of families of construction workers in New Hampshire are enrolled in one or more safety net programs at a cost to the state and the federal government of $48 million per year. Among all New Hampshire workers, 19% have a family member enrolled in one or more safety net programs. Twenty-three percent of construction workers lack health insurance, almost three times the rate for all workers in New Hampshire (8%).