IRLE is an interdisciplinary institute at the University of California, Berkeley that connects world-class research with policy to improve workers’ lives, communities, and society.
The Institute for Research on Labor and Employment promotes better understanding of the conditions, policies, and institutions that affect the well-being of workers and their families and communities. We inform public debate with hard evidence about inequality, the economy, and the nature of work.
What We Do
Partner with faculty and experts at UC Berkeley and beyond to foster innovative analysis and research that improves workers’ lives.
Bring work and workers into academic and policy conversations, and show how labor issues affect communities and institutions – and vice versa.
Activate and support emerging scholars and established academics at Berkeley, providing research support and a thriving intellectual community.
Our centers are shaping policy and debate
IRLE is home to several nationally-recognized centers and programs that conduct research, education, and outreach on labor and employment issues. Our centers have played a leading role in finding solutions to the most urgent social and economic issues facing working families in California, providing in-depth research and policy analysis in areas such as minimum wage policies, the early childcare workforce, homelessness, and public sector labor and employment law.
Over the past two decades, Berkeley’s economics department and associated institutes have been at the forefront of two critical changes in the practice of economics: a heightened emphasis on empirical research, and an increasing focus on inequality… IRLE has long been a fount of progressive economic studies and policy advocacy.
The American Prospect
A home for established and emerging labor scholars
IRLE provides funding, community, and research opportunities to faculty and students across the UC Berkeley campus. By creating research and educational opportunities for more students, we aim to contribute to the diversity of the next generation of labor and employment scholars, activists, and practitioners.
Labor Education in the Classroom and in the Field
The Labor Center’s popular Labor Studies courses allow students to hone and apply community-engaged research and organizing skills for social justice while earning academic credit. Now in its third decade, the Labor Center’s Labor Summer is a rare paid educational internship that connects students with the labor movement in California.
Social Sciences Research Pathways
Through this innovative program, undergraduate mentees develop fundamental research skills and receive meaningful mentorship from graduate researchers to prepare them for future scholarly pursuits. In turn, graduate student mentors gain experience leading a research team and the conscientious support of undergraduate mentees for their research projects.
- Steve Raphael, Director and Professor of Public Policy
- Lori Ann Ospina, Associate Director
- Barbara Campbell, Assistant Director
Faculty Advisory Board
- Irene Bloemraad, Professor of Sociology and the Thomas Garden Barnes Chair of Canadian Studies
- David Card, Professor of Economics
- William H. Dow, Henry J. Kaiser Professor of Health Economics
- Catherine Fisk, Professor of Law
- Hilary Hoynes, Professor of Public Policy and Economics, Haas Distinguished Chair in Economic Disparities
- Paul Pierson, John Gross Endowed Chair, Professor of Political Science