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The Hidden Public Costs of Low-Wage jobs in California

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Abstract:

This report, produced by the UC Berkeley Labor Center for the National Economic Development and Law Center, is the second in a series of white papers informing policy solutions to working poverty in California. Over the past two decades, California's "new economy" has produced an hourglass pattern of job distribution, fostering far more growth among high and low wage jobs compared to middle-income jobs. A growing segment of Californians work year-round, but earn too little to provide for their families. As a consequence, these families must often resort to publicly funded safety net programs in order to supplement their earnings and meet their basic needs. Increasingly, public assistance is becoming an ongoing wage supplement for low-wage workers, rather than emergency assistance for those who find themselves unable to work.