Michael Reich

Research Expertise and Interest

minimum wage, living wages, labor market segmentation, low wage labor markets

Research Description

Michael Reich is Professor Emeritus of Economics and Chair of the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) of the University of California at Berkeley. He served as Director of IRLE from 2004 to 2015. Reich received his Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard. His research publications cover numerous areas of labor economics and political economy, including the economics of racial inequality, the analysis of labor market segmentation, historical stages in U.S. labor markets and social structures of accumulation, high performance workplaces, union-management cooperation, Japanese labor-management systems, living wages and minimum wages.

In the News

A $15 minimum wage would cost jobs, right? Probably not, economists say

Extensive research led by UC Berkeley economists and alumni has found that significant increases in the minimum wage have little, if any, impact on employers’ hiring decisions. In fact, the researchers say, a higher minimum wage can produce benefits not just for workers, but for their employers, their communities and the entire economy.

The Uber/Lyft Ballot Initiative Guarantees only $5.64 an Hour

Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash have unveiled their ballot initiative to undo historic worker protections enshrined in AB5, California’s new law that tightens the criteria for worker classification. The initiative claims drivers will receive a guaranteed pay equal to 120% of the minimum wage (that would be $15.60 in 2021, when the California minimum wage will be $13). However, the Labor Center's review of the initiative leads to a very different estimate.

Minimum wage hikes don’t eliminate jobs, study finds

Increasing the minimum wage does not lead to the short- or long-term loss of low paying jobs, according to a new study co-authored by UC Berkeley economics professor Michael Reich and published in the November issue of the journal The Review of Economics and Statistics.

IRLE's conference on "New Deal/No Deal?"

In the midst of forecasts of continuing economic woes and congressional gridlock, experts gathered recently at UC Berkeley to assess what worked and what didn’t during the Great Depression-inspired New Deal, the Obama administration’s still emerging efforts to ease the Great Recession, and prospects for relief, reform and recovery.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
October 23, 2020
Levi Sumagaysay
Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said this week that the state's residents could see the costs of ride-sharing as much as double if voters reject its ballot measure. UC Berkeley professor and economist Michael Reich disputes those figures. He estimates much smaller price increases would be needed and could be absorbed by Uber and Lyft, and now he has hard data from the companies' operations in New York City that shows single-digit percentage price increases after drivers there received increased wages as mandated by law.
October 21, 2020
Aarian Marshall
Prop. 22 would create a new legal classification for Uber drivers, Instacart shoppers, and DoorDash deliverers — not quite employees, but not the independent contractors they've been until now. If the measure fails, the companies likely will have to recognize their workers as employees. Uber and Lyft have threatened to leave the state if that happens, or make big changes to their services, which would disrupt life for both drivers and customers. Uber suggests that the company would dismiss 75% of its drivers, mostly part-time workers, and that Uber fares would spike by 25% to 111%. But a report published this month by Michael Reich, a UC Berkeley economist who has played a key role in driver pay fights in New York and Seattle, casts doubt on Uber's numbers. Reich suggests the gig companies would use drivers more efficiently and save money on recruiting and retaining drivers, so fares would only rise by 5% to 10%. He finds that driver pay would increase by 30% if they were treated as employees rather than contractors.
July 10, 2019
Andrew Van Dam
Policies that raise minimum wages reduce poverty and don't seem to lead to significant job losses, a new study by Berkeley's Institute for Research on Labor and Employment finds. The report was co-authored by economics professor emeritus Michael Reich, chair of the institute's Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics, and Anna Godoey, a labor economist and postdoctoral scholar at the center. According to this reporter: "Their work is some of the first to address hikes as large, in magnitude, as those that we'd see if the U.S. adopted a $15 minimum wage. ... The Berkeley team builds on a tradition of headline-making, mind-changing research dating to the work of David Card, now of Berkeley, and the late Alan Krueger, in the 1990s. Minimum-wage effects are so fiendish to disentangle given available data, prominent MIT economist David Autor said, that they have pushed scholars to pioneer multiple innovative statistical methods now widely used in economics and related social sciences." For more on this, see this press release at the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment.
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April 30, 2019
Andrew Van Dam
An analysis of death data from 1999-2015 suggests that raising the minimum wage and earned-income tax credit by 10 percent could prevent about 1,230 suicides -- or "deaths of despair" -- a year in the U.S. The national suicide rate has risen 35 percent since 2000, and the researchers found that the rates fell in states that increased their minimum wage or the tax credit for working class families. "When they implement these policies, suicides fall very quickly," says study co-author Anna Godoey, a labor economist and postdoctoral scholar at the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at Berkeley's Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. The study was published in the National Bureau of Economic Research. Co-authors included economics professor Michael Reich, chair of the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics, public-health professor William Dow, and doctoral public health student Christopher Lowenstein. For more on this, see our story at Berkeley News. Other stories on this topic appeared in Forbes, New York Magazine, and Business Insider UK.
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