This brief summarizes the Great Recession’s impact on public employment and the public sector job losses driven by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Our analysis points to the importance of focusing on the public sector as policymakers respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
Policy Research Specialist
Future of Work & Workers
Area of Expertise
Public finance and fiscal policy
Economic and workforce development
Public sector work and workers
Sara Hinkley is a specialist in the low-wage work program, where she focuses on technology and the public sector.
Sara has an extensive research background in labor, workforce, and economic development policy in California and nationally. She has worked for the California Labor Federation, Justice for Janitors, and Good Jobs First developing policies to improve opportunities for low-income people. She was a postdoctoral scholar at the Labor Center and is former Associate Director of IRLE. Sara has provided research consultation for the Institute of Urban and Regional Development, the Goldman School of Public Policy, the Center for Community Innovation, the County of Los Angeles, and Inclusive Economics.
Sara is also a lecturer in City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, where she teaches courses in Economic Analysis and Community and Economic Development.
Sara holds a Ph.D. in city and regional planning from UC Berkeley, a Masters in Regional Planning from UNC Chapel Hill, and a B.A. from Amherst College.
Learn more about Sara on her personal website.
In this post we examine the likely impacts of the pandemic on local budgets, the factors still unknown, and the principles that must guide California’s response to this ongoing crisis.
Although the short-term effect of today’s decision is to throw 17 million public sector workers into uncertainty, it is also possible that Janus v. AFSCME will serve as a turning point for both a reinvigorated politics of labor and a revitalized conversation about the importance of the public sector to our social compact. Both our economy and our democracy depend on what happens next.
Race to the Bottom: How Low‐Road Subcontracting Affects Working Conditions in California’s Property Services Industry
As economic inequality takes center stage in the public debate, policymakers are increasingly asking whether subcontracting has contributed to the problem of low-wage work.
“One of the shortcoming around the whole conversation around job creation is that we don’t often go back and look to see how accurate the models actually were,” said Hinkley of UC Berkeley.
“Disasters, including pandemics, are often times when there’s an opening for privatization. Sometimes, the public sector can’t really adapt because it’s required to serve everybody,” says Dr. Hinkley.