Jacobs, Ken


Ken Jacobs is the Chair of the Labor Center, where he as been a Labor Specialist since 2002. His areas of specialization include: health care coverage, low-wage work, the retail industry and public policy. Recent papers have examined declining job-based health coverage in California and the U.S., the public cost of low-wage jobs, and transformations in the retail industry.

It’s the Economy, Stupid- Public Sector Unions are not the Cause of State Budget Deficits

By Ken Jacobs
UC Berkeley Labor Center

Ohio voters will decide “Issue 2” on Tuesday, Nov.8, a referendum on a law which limits collective bargaining for government employee unions. As many as 12 other states (including Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Arizona, Idaho, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming) have already enacted anti-union legislation, which proponents justified with claims that public sector unions are behind the state budget deficits.

Could Walmart Pay a Living Wage?

By Ken Jacobs
UC Berkeley Labor Center

Walmart is well known for both its low prices and its low wages. The drive to keep prices is down is offered as explanation for the company’s substandard wages and benefits. New findings show that Walmart can keep those prices low and pay its workers a living wage.

My colleagues and I at UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research&Education released a study earlier this week, "Living Wage Policies and Big-Box Retail: How a Higher Wage Standard Would Impact Walmart Workers and Shoppers," which found that Walmart could help its largely low-income employees by increasing the minimum wage it pays to $12. This would significantly improve incomes for many Walmart workers, with only the slightest impact on customers.

The Economic Consequences of Proposed California Budget Cuts

By Ken Jacobs
UC Berkeley Labor Research Center

When it comes to jobs and the economy, not all solutions to the state’s budget shortfall are equal. Most measures designed by well-meaning state leaders to reduce the deficit also will depress employment and economic growth in California. But the magnitude of those impacts will vary significantly – depending on what measures are enacted – and the worst effects can be avoided.

That’s why it’s so important to pay close attention to the different budget proposals being put forward. We’ll all pay a high price if we don’t.