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.
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.
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.
Steven is known to many across California and nationally in the labor movement. He came to the Labor Center in 2001 from Houston, Texas, where he had received his Ph.D. in economics with an emphasis on urban economics from the University of Houston and had been active as an organizer, activist, and professor.
Joe Biden’s plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 won’t just help workers: A new study finds that lower wages cost taxpayers over $100 billion a year
The study, which comes from the UC Berkeley Labor Center, found that the country’s current low minimum wage costs taxpayers more than $100 billion a year. That’s because nearly half of the working families who would benefit from the pay bump rely on at least one safety net program, such as SNAP or Medicaid.
To help folks stand on their own two feet, the government can’t just make people work. It has to make work pay. The cost of low wages is too high for the country’s working families. And it’s too high for Uncle Sam as well.
“We’ve seen a big trend recently in the labor movement around bargaining for the common good,” said Ken Jacobs, chair of the UC Berkeley Labor Center. “It’s a focus that reflects that workers have lives that go beyond the workplace.”
Ken Jacobs talks the Georgia Runoff Election and how minimum wage earners can impact the election outcome.
For state lawmakers, 2020 “was a year that started out with lots of aspirational plans,” said Ken Jacobs, chair of the UC Berkeley Labor Center. “But it became a year about saving lives.”