UCLA Labor Center

Workers and Learners during a Global Pandemic and Social Uprising


2020 / Labor Summer Research Program Team

Students from the 2020 UCLA Labor Summer Research Program, a six-week concurrent seminar and field research class founded by the UCLA Labor Center and taught under the UCLA Labor Studies program, released a research brief with new data on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the worker and learner population. Based on 138 surveys and 25 interviews, the brief Workers and Learners during a Global Pandemic and Social Uprising documents how the academic, employment, and life experiences of workers and learners changed since the onset of the global health crisis.

Among other findings, the study finds:

  • 48% changed their educational plans because of COVID-19
  • 65% are concerned about a lack of jobs available upon graduation
  • 58% felt high or extreme levels of stress and anxiety due to stay-at-home orders
  • 61% increased their engagement in organizing activities and 59% increased their engagement in electoral politics and voting
  • 85% reported that they would join a union or workers association if they had the opportunity

Report authors offer the following specific COVID-19 recommendations:

  1. Increase workers and learners’ access to twenty-first century financial and technology needs.
  2. Help workers and learners navigate jobs and school during COVID-19.
  3. Institutions, unions, colleges, and employers should implement equitable opportunities that address the unique needs and experiences of workers and learners.

This brief supplements previous research from Workers and Learners, a multiyear project that documents the experiences of students who are employed in Los Angeles County. Previous studies released through the project include Unseen Costs: The Experiences of Workers and Learners in Los Angeles County and A Survey of Workers and Learners during COVID-19.

Workers and Learners is a collaboration between UCLA’s Labor Center, Labor Studies, and Institute for Research on Labor and Employment; the LACCD Dolores Huerta Labor Institute; and the CSULB American Studies Program.

Send media inquiries for this report to: citlallichavez@ucla.edu