Can the Informal Economy Be “Managed”? Comparing Approaches and Effectiveness of Day‐Labor Management Policies in the San Diego Metropolitan Area.

Crotty, Sean M.

Growth and Change 48, no. 4 (2017): 909-941.

Day-labor hiring sites are found in more than 120 municipalities across the U.S., there is limited research examining the specific drivers that generate direct interventions into the day-labor market, nor is there any research examining the effectiveness of day-labor management policies. In what follows, I draw on examples from the San Diego Metropolitan Area (SDMA) to address this gap in policy-research. The findings demonstrate the pervasiveness of neoliberal ideology in day-labor management, from policing strategies to social service provision. In each case examined, local governments only took direct action when they believed day-labor activity threatened local commercial activity or when residents’ fear of “illegal immigrant” day-laborers made them question the state’s ability to control space effectively. In each case, I also evaluate the effectiveness and cost of the management strategy. The results of this analysis clearly demonstrate that attempts to eliminate day-labor activity are costly and expensive while efforts to formalize day-labor cost less and have a higher success rate.

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