Labor policies and safety net programs make a difference for
low-wage workers in the U.S. Minimum wage laws ensure a minimum
for earnings, and safety net programs like the Earned Income Tax
Credit and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
supplement incomes for workers who don’t earn enough to meet
basic needs. Learn more here about policies that impact low-wage
This presentation features UC Davis economist Giovanni Peri
discussing why immigrants from Mexico and Central America are
more reliant on wages and less reliant on public safety net
programs, yet are still much more likely to be poor than those
born in the US.
In this presentation, Jeffrey Clemens discusses his work on how
the Great Recession affected employment and income for
low-skilled workers. Clemens is an assistant professor in
the Department of Economics at UC San Diego.
Paid Family Leave (PFL) provides income for workers to take time
off to care for a newborn or sick loved one. The U.S. is the only
industrialized country without national PFL. Moreover,
job-protected leave is not universal. A large body of research on
policies outside the U.S. suggests that paid and protected leave
help workers remain in the labor force. Increasing researchers’
access to governmental administrative data would further show how
to improve these policies for U.S. workers. Limited existing data
from California PFL show that the majority of new mothers do not
take advantage of this policy, and that take-up is even lower
among low-wage women.
This special podcast report describes a new study by center
director Ann Stevens and graduate student affiliate Chloe East
that examines how many workers at or near the minimum wage still
rely on safety net programs to help their families get by.
During the most recent economic recession in the U.S., many
parents lost their jobs. When a parent loses a job, it can impact
their child’s well-being in complex ways. In a new study, we
sought to understand how a parent losing a job affects their
children’s health. We found that after a job loss, an increase in
public coverage offset much of the decrease in private coverage.
In addition, we found almost no effects on children’s use of
routine health care services and no evidence that job loss
negatively affects children’s physical health in the short run.
However, we do find that parental job loss results in a
deterioration of mental health for some children, which may have
negative implications for child health in the long run.
Some safety net programs, such as unemployment insurance (UI) and
food stamps (SNAP), have shown to automatically stabilize income
during financial downturns. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
raises millions of American workers out of poverty, but its
impact in times of crisis has not been explored.
Public insurance can provide needed medical coverage for those
who cannot afford it. Considering that private insurance is often
bound to employment, a public option could have an impact on the
labor market if it reduces incentives to work.
In this May 2012 seminar, Visiting Scholars Katherine S.
Newman and Rourke O’Brien discuss the way we tax the poor in the
United States, particularly in the American South, where poor
families are often subject to income taxes, and where regressive
sales taxes apply even to food for home consumption.