Friday, January 18, 2019: 1:45 PM-3:15 PM
Continental Parlor 8, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
Cluster: Work and Work-Life Policies and Programs (WWLPP)
Berenice Castillo, MSW, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Vincent Fusaro, PhD, Boston College
Purpose: This symposium includes three papers focusing on low wage workers and the precarious conditions of low wage labor in the US. Limited research has examined low wage work and experiences in the low wage labor market using longitudinal data. The studies included in the symposium present national and local longitudinal analyses considering the distribution of low wage labor in the US, the experiences of low wage workers with workplace labor law violations, and experiences of material hardships among low wage workers. Method: One paper uses a quantitative and qualitative survey of one of the largest metropolitan areas in the US, the San Francisco Bay area. Two other studies use different large-scale, nationally representative surveys, the Current Population Survey (CPS) Outgoing Rotation Group Survey and the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). The studies use diverse analysis methods, including multi-level modeling, multinomial logistic regression, logistic regression and qualitative thematic analyses. Results: The first paper examines the distribution of low wage labor and its characteristics across the US. It considers both individual and community level factors related to low wage employment. Findings suggest that local labor regulation (e.g., unionization) reduces the likelihood that less-educated workers will be employed in low-wage work. The second paper examines differences across age cohorts and focuses not only on the factors that shape a worker's decision to file a workplace claim, but how claimants navigate the subsequent legal and bureaucratic processes. Results indicate that young adults are significantly more likely than middle-aged adults to speak to their employer about workplace issues. Qualitative analysis finds variation in the levels of settlement satisfaction, collateral burdens, and differences in their perceptions of future employment. The last paper examines events, including adverse employment experiences, that contribute to household entrances and exits from spells of material hardship. Results from this paper highlight racial disparities and differences in the role of work and unemployment in experiences of hardship Implications: Collectively, these studies examine low wage labor regulations and laborers across contexts in the US. The results of the studies complement one another to further our understanding of the experiences of low-wage workers, the challenges they and their households face, and the role of community conditions and individual factors in these patterns. The studies each have implications for policies and practices directed toward creating equitable working conditions and labor standards for low-wage workers across the US.
* noted as presenting author
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