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Study Highlights Impact of Low Pay and Meager Benefits within California Construction

UC Berkeley Labor Center

A report by the UC Berkeley Labor Center examines the public cost of low wages and lack of benefits in a large sector of California’s construction industry. This sector is comprised of a non-union workforce that often settles for lower standards. The Center determined that nearly half of non-union construction worker families in California depend on a public funds-enabled safety net program. By comparison, just over a third of all workers in California have a household member enrolled in at least one safety net program.

The study also found that in both California and nationally, the industry is made up of two opposing structures. One is a highly paid, often unionized commercial sector while the other is low-wage, residential construction plagued with exploitation.

“The high utilization of safety net programs and lack of health care for many workers are a clear illustration of the poor wages and working conditions in a large part of the construction industry,” said Ken Jacobs, one of the study's co-authors. “It underscores the importance of unions and laws like prevailing wage to uphold standards and ensure workers can make a decent living.”

Read the full press release on UC Berkeley Labor Center

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