Ruth Milkman has written extensively about low-wage immigrant workers in the
U.S., analyzing their employment conditions as well as the dynamics of immigrant labor
organizing. She helped lead a multi-city team that produced a widely publicized 2009
study documenting the prevalence of wage theft and violations of other workplace laws in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. Dr. Milkman will serve as the 107th President of the American Sociological Association 2015-16.
This talk will offer an overview of the relationship between the growth of low-wage
immigration to the United States since the 1970s and the restructuring of the nation’s labor market in the same period. The central claim is that migration patterns have been shaped by, and at the same time helped to shape, broader political-economic trends. More specifically, the large influx of low-wage immigration to the U.S. in the late twentieth century is linked to the dismantling of the highly regulated (and highly unionized) form of capitalism that characterized the United States during the New Deal era.