UCLA Labor Center

Profile of Domestic Workers in California

2020 / Saba Waheed, Michele Wong, and Megan Whelan

A UCLA study published today, Profile of Domestic Workers in California, captures the experience of workers in the domestic work sector. Based on government data from the most recent 5-year sample (2014–2018) of the American Community Survey, the study provides a profile of domestic workers in California—who they are, where they live and work, and the economic vulnerabilities they face due to their employment status, low wages, and lack of benefits.

The study finds that the COVID-19 pandemic and its risks to domestic workers and employers makes the need for employer education, worker protections, and health and safety regulations in the home even more urgent and vital. Domestic work is essential to the functioning of our economy and a more caring and sustainable future. Domestic workers provide childcare, homecare, and house cleaning services to support families, individuals, older adults, and people with illnesses or disabilities.

Among other findings, the study finds:

  • The domestic work sector is staffed primarily by immigrant women of color. In 2018, three-quarters of domestic workers were Latinx, Asian American/Pacific Islander, or Black women.
  • The majority of domestic workers (80%) labor year-round—47 or more weeks a year—and about half work full-time.
  • The majority of domestic workers (77%) are low-wage earners.

This report was a collaboration between the UCLA Labor Center, a unit of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, and the California Domestic Workers Coalition.