In When Mandates Work, Michael Reich, Ken Jacobs, and Miranda Dietz, eds. University of California Press. January 2014.
- As a result of the policies discussed in this book, tens of thousands of low-wage workers in San Francisco receive higher pay. They are not as compelled to come to work when they are sick, and they are more able to take care of their loved ones when they are sick. An even larger number of workers have greater access to health care services. They no longer face discrimination in benefits based on their sexual orientation.
When Mandates Work, Michael Reich, Ken Jacobs, and Miranda Dietz, eds. University of California Press. January 2014.
- Starting in the 1990s, San Francisco launched a series of bold but relatively unknown public policy experiments to improve wages and benefits for thousands of local workers. Since then, scholars have documented the effects of those policies on compensation, productivity, job creation, and health coverage. Opponents predicted a range of negative impacts, but the evidence tells a decidedly different tale. This book brings together that evidence for the first time, reviews it as a whole, and considers its lessons for local, state, and federal policymakers.
Estudios de Economía Aplicada, 30(1). 2012.
- The surprising increase in U.S. unemployment in the Great Recession and the persistence of long-term unemployment in the economic recovery pose important questions for employment policy. Why did unemployment grow more than forecast? Is the character of long-term unemployment the result of cyclical or structural causes? I discuss eight policy changes that would reduce the ranks of the unemployed and that would improve the efficiency of the labor market. Most of these proposals do not add big-ticket items to the Federal budget; their merits are independent of the question of how large the federal deficit should be at this time.
Review of Economics and Statistics, 92(4):945-964. November, 2010.
- We use policy discontinuities at state borders to identify the effects of minimum wages on earnings and employment in restaurants and other low-wage sectors. Our approach generalizes the case study method by considering all local differences in minimum wage policies between 1990 and 2006. We compare all contiguous county pairs in the United States that straddle a state border and find no adverse employment effects. We show that traditional approaches that do not account for local economic conditions tend to produce spurious negative effects due to spatial heterogeneities in employment trends that are unrelated to minimum wage policies. Our findings are robust to allowing for long-term effects of minimum wage changes.
Monthly Labor Review, 133(10):3-18. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. October 2010.
- The share of unemployment accounted for by long-term unemployment has risen higher following the 2007–09 recession than following any other recent recession, and the makeup of the labor force, the unemployed, and the long-term unemployed has changed substantially since 1983
California Public Employee Relations Journal, 128:13-21. February 2008.
- As public employees, elementary and secondary school teachers have the enormous responsibility of educating our youth,and much hinges on their success.Teacher quality is the most important input schools contribute to the academic success of their students.1 The ability of school officials to recruit and retain highly effective classroom teachers is a struggle in many school districts throughout the United States. For decades now, a small and declining fraction of the most cognitively skilled graduates choose to become teachers,2 while rigorous national standards and school-based accountability for student performance have pushed the demand for talented teachers to an all-time high.
Prolific career opportunities have made it increasingly difficult to attract the best and the brightest into the profession. Professional women, historically afforded limited choices outside of teaching, have increasingly diverse career prospects. Attractive pay and compensation structures are part of the appeal of these ever- expanding opportunities. For this reason, it is important to ask whether teacher pay has kept up with that of other professions available to college graduates today. This article presents empirical evidence from several sources that documents relative teacher pay in a present and historical context.
Industrial and Labor Relations Review 60(4):522-543. July 2007. Cornell University, School of Industrial & Labor Relations.
- This paper presents the first study of the economic effects of a citywide minimum wage— San Francisco’s adoption of a minimum wage, set at $8.50 in 2004 and $9.14 by 2007. Compared to earlier benchmark studies by Card and Krueger and by Neumark and Wascher, this study surveys table-service as well as fast-food restaurants, includes more control groups, and collects data for more outcomes. The authors find that the policy increased worker pay and compressed wage inequality, but did not create any detectable employment loss among affected restaurants. The authors also find smaller amounts of measurement error than characterized the earlier studies, and so they can reject previous negative employment estimates with greater confidence. Fast-food and table-service restaurants responded differently to the policy, with a small price increase and substantial increases in job tenure and in the proportion of full-time workers among fast-food restaurants, but not among table-service restaurants.
International Journal of Health Services 36(3):443–454. 2006.
- The ability of families to meet their most basic needs is an important measure of economic stability and well-being. While poverty thresholds are used to evaluate the extent of serious economic deprivation in our society, family budgets—that is, the income a family needs to secure safe and decent-yet-modest living standards in the community in which it resides—offer a broader measure of economic welfare. Basic family budgets take into account differences in both geographic location and family type. In total, this report presents basic budgets for more than 400 U.S. communities and six family types (either one or two parents with one, two, or three children). That the budgets differ by location is important, since certain costs, such as housing, vary significantly depending on where one resides. This geographic dimension of family budget measurements offers a comparative advantage over using poverty thresholds, which only use a national baseline in their measurements.
Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, 44(1):1–13. January 2005.
In The State of California Labor 2003, Ruth Milkman, ed. 199-226. Cleveland: Brothers Printing Company. 2003.
- Living wage mandates legislate minimum hourly wages that are considerably higher than minimum wage rates. Since 1994 living wage ordinances have been passed and, in varying degrees, implemented in over ninety-five local governmental entities in the United States; among them are twenty-one California cities. The author presents a summary of the living wage ordinances in California, including their wage mandate levels and their coverage. He discusses how the minimum wage and the federal poverty standard have failed to keep up with increased living costs, especially in California’s cities, and reviews arguments for and against living wage policies. The author also surveys older academic studies on minimum wage and living wages and then discusses a new generation of research studies on the impacts of living wages. This new set of studies, which includes detailed analyses of Los Angeles and San Francisco, provides a more careful and complete understanding than was previously available. Using before-and-after surveys of employers and workers and more sophisticated methodology, they reveal that living wage policies increase pay for their intended beneficiaries without creating disemployment effects. Living wage policies also reduce employee turnover and absenteeism and improve worker performance, thereby creating some employer savings in the short run and generating incentives for productivity growth in the long run. The policies’ costs to employers and taxpayers are considerably smaller than some have projected. The author concludes by discussing recent developments in living wage campaigns that may lead to greater impacts in the future.