The Institute for Research on Labor and Employment’s (IRLE) mission is to conduct and support research on labor and employment at UC Berkeley. Our goal is to bridge the gap between academic research and the policy world. To achieve this goal, IRLE supports policy-relevant and policy engaged research; disseminates the latest research from our centers, affiliated faculty, and scholars to a wide audience of policymakers, academics and the public; and educates California’s labor, business, and community leaders.
IRLE is a research unit at the University of California, Berkeley. We stand apart from individual academic departments under the Vice Chancellor for Research and support research on the entire range of labor and employment issues across campus.
The institute was founded in 1945 as the Institute for Industrial Relations by Professor Clark Kerr, later the President of the University of California system. Sandra Susan Smith, Professor of Sociology is IRLE’s Interim Director.*
Interdisciplinary since its inception, the IRLE brings together more than 100 faculty affiliates that represent the breadth of UC Berkeley’s academic departments and schools, including Economics, Sociology, Political Science, the Haas School of Business, City and Regional Planning, the Goldman School of Public Policy, Public Health, Engineering, Education, Ethnic Studies, and History. Each year, the IRLE also hosts several visiting scholars from around the globe who come to the Berkeley campus to work on independent research projects in partnership with our affiliated faculty.
IRLE is the institutional home for several nationally-recognized centers and programs that conduct research, education and outreach on labor and employment issues and policies. The largest of IRLE’s centers, and its principal outreach program, is the Center for Labor Research and Education, also known as the “Labor Center.” The Labor Center conducts research on topics such as job quality and workforce development issues, and works with unions, government, and employers to develop innovative policy perspectives and programs. The Labor Center’s curricula and leadership trainings provide UC Berkeley students with opportunities to learn about and become involved in labor issues. Other IRLE centers provide in-depth research and policy analysis in areas such as the early childcare workforce, employment in the green economy, wage and employment dynamics, and public sector labor and employment law. Please see the Centers and Programs page to learn more about each of these centers and to see a full list of affiliated centers and programs.
IRLE and its centers produce research reports, policy briefs, working papers and commentary on topics such as the minimum wage, healthcare, early childhood education, immigration, tax policy and low-wage work. IRLE’s research, staff and affiliated scholars are frequently cited in major California and national print and broadcast media. Since 1961, IRLE has published Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, the leading interdisciplinary journal in the field of employment and labor relations. The Institute also hosts conferences, seminars, and guest speakers during the academic year that bring new perspectives to the latest issues facing policymakers as well as highlighting the work of our affiliated faculty, graduate students, and visiting scholars.