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Unseen Costs: The Experiences of Workers and Learners in Los Angeles County

By: Sophia L. Ángeles, Mindy Chen, Jennifer Galvez, Janna Shadduck-Hernández, Preeti Sharma, Deja Thomas, Saba Waheed, and Michele Wong

A new report from the UCLA Labor Center, a unit of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, in partnership with the Dolores Huerta Labor Institute, documents the work and educational experience of those that are in school and also working. 

Unseen Costs: The Experiences of Workers and Learners in Los Angeles County examines the challenges facing learners at local public colleges and universities that are juggling the demands of studying and also working. The report analyzes the struggles facing this working population that lie at the intersection of higher education and labor and the results of a supplementary report on the impacts to workers and learners during COVID-19. You can find the supplementary report here

Among other findings, the study finds: 

  • 1 in 2 learners in Los Angeles is also a worker.
  • Over half (68%) of workers and learners, who are concentrated in low-wage service industries, reported that their jobs do not correlate to their career goals.
  • 69% workers and learners miss at least one school academic opportunity.
  • 40% of workers and learners have considered taking a break or withdrawing from school.
  • Two-thirds (63%) of parents are unable to support their children’s education.
  • 1 in 2 (58%) workers and learners have experienced food insecurity, which includes missed meals, disrupted eating patterns, or lack of nutritionally-balanced meals.

Report authors recommend supporting workers as learners and learners as workers; strengthening career and educational pathways for working learners; improving the financial agency of all workers and all learners; and providing holistic support to workers and learners. 

Media links:

Daily Bruin | UCLA Labor Center releases report detailing challenges facing student workers

Inside Higher Ed | Report Highlights Struggles of Working Learners

Related Links: 

A Survey or Workers and Learners During COVID-19: This study builds on existing knowledge concerning the experiences of working learners by documenting how their academic and life experiences have changed since the onset of the current pandemic and global health crisis. 

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