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Wage and hour violations in urban labour markets: a comparison of Los Angeles, New York and Chicago


  • Ruth Milkman is Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York Graduate Center and Academic Director of CUNY's Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies. Ana Luz González is a PhD Candidate in Urban Planning at UCLA. Peter Ikeler is a PhD Candidate in Sociology at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

Correspondence should be addressed to Ruth Milkman, Sociology, City University of New York Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10016, USA; email:


This article compares violations of minimum wage laws and other labour standards in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. Los Angeles has the highest violation rates, due to such factors as its industrial composition and disproportionately large number of small establishments, as well as its vast unauthorised immigrant population. In addition, Los Angeles’ higher rates reflect the stricter legal standards in California. We conclude that, although stronger workplace laws and regulations are crucial, in the absence of effective enforcement, they may fail to prevent workplace violations.