Promoting Income Security and Employment

California is a global economic powerhouse. If it were a nation, it would have the sixth largest economy in the world. But the state’s prosperity is not evenly shared. California has high wage inequality and high poverty, with significant disparities by geography, education, and ethnicity. To combat this, state policymakers have enacted increases in the minimum wage and a new state Earned Income Tax Credit. Some are even entertaining a conversation about a new universal basic income. The effects of such policies are of first-order importance for the state as well as the rest of the nation.

The California Policy Lab provides expertise in labor economics and technical capacity in rigorous research design and data analysis to assist state, county, and local agencies with the implementation and targeting of these initiatives, helping government to understand the far-reaching impacts of such policies and leverage these findings to inform and improve efforts.

Example Projects

The California minimum wage is slated to rise to $15 per hour over the next several years, and some localities are on a shorter timeline. CPL has been working with the City of Los Angeles to assess the impact of the minimum wage increase using federal-, state-, county- and city-level data sources. This project will evaluate the potential impacts of the minimum wage on a broad range of outcomes, including but not limited to earnings, employment, business openings and closings, and housing prices.

The growth of on-demand platforms like Uber or Taskrabbit has created a perception that the ‘gig economy’ is rapidly expanding and freelancing will soon become the norm. Yet we lack reliable information about independent contracting, its growth, or its effect on employment trends. Through this unique partnership with the California Franchise Tax Board, we will analyze over 80 million California tax returns to uncover key insights about the nature and prevalence of independent contracting in today’s economy.

RESEARCH PAGE: Beyond Gig: Understanding the Role of Independent Contracting in California

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