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 Illinois Construction Industry

    In this research brief we provide estimates of safety net use among families of construction workers in Illinois. We find that 34% of families of construction workers in Illinois are enrolled in one or more safety net programs at a cost to the state and the federal government of over half a billion dollars per year. By comparison, among all Illinois workers, 30% have a family member enrolled in one or more safety net programs. The rate at which construction workers lack health insurance (21%) is more than two and a half times the rate for all workers in Illinois (8%).

    Ken Jacobs, Kuochih Huang, Jenifer MacGillvaryand Enrique Lopezlira

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

    In this paper we look at the use by construction workers and their families in the United States of five means-tested safety net programs. We find that 39% of families of construction workers are enrolled in one or more safety net program at a cost of almost $28 billion per year. In comparison, 31% of all workers have a family member enrolled in a safety net program. Three times as many construction workers as all workers lack health insurance (31% compared to 10%).

    Ken Jacobs, Kuochih Huang, Jenifer MacGillvaryand Enrique Lopezlira

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

    In this research brief we provide estimates of safety net use among families of construction workers in Connecticut. We find that 39% of families of construction workers in Connecticut 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 Connecticut workers, 29% have a family member enrolled in one or more safety net programs. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of construction workers lack health insurance, more than three times the rate for all workers in Connecticut (7%).

    Ken Jacobs, Kuochih Huang, Jenifer MacGillvaryand Enrique Lopezlira

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

    In this research brief we provide estimates of safety net use among families of construction workers in Pennsylvania. We find that 28% of families of construction workers in Pennsylvania are enrolled in one or more safety net programs at a cost to the state and the federal government of $428 million per year. Compared to all Pennsylvania workers, construction workers are more than twice as likely to lack health insurance (7% compared to 16%).

    Ken Jacobs, Kuochih Huang, Jenifer MacGillvaryand Enrique Lopezlira

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

    In this research brief we provide estimates of safety net use among families of construction workers in Washington. We find that 38% of families of construction workers in Washington are enrolled in one or more safety net programs at a cost to the state and the federal government of over half a billion dollars per year. By comparison, among all Washington workers, 32% have a family member enrolled in one or more safety net programs. The rate at which construction workers lack health insurance is close to three times the rate for all workers in Washington (22% compared to 8%).