Day Laborers Getting Shortchanged on Comp

January 24, 2006 ( - A new survey of day laborers found that just under half (49%) claim they were denied proper pay for work they performed in the eight weeks before the poll.

The study by researchers from UCLA, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and New York’s New School University also found that 48% of day laborers said that an employer has underpaid them during the same time period, according to a news report on

Further, 44% of respondents said an employer denied them food, water, and breaks, while 28% said that an employer insulted or threatened them.

“Coming into the study, we knew that the low-wage market is rife with violations of basic labor standards, but we still found the statistics shocking and disturbing,” said Nik Theodore, an assistant professor in the Urban Planning and Policy Program at the University of Illinois, Chicago, in the news report.

Twenty percent of day laborers said that they have been injured on the job and more than half of workers injured in the past year said they received no medical care for their injuries. Only 6% of injured day laborers said their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance covered medical expenses. Nearly three-quarters of day laborers said they considered their work dangerous.

The researchers surveyed 2,660 day laborers at 264 hiring sites in 20 states and the District of Columbia. The researchers estimate that the country has 117,600 day laborers. Just over three-quarters of day laborers are undocumented immigrants, according to the study.

The report is here .