This Report, “Day Labor in Las Vegas, Employer Indiscretions in Sin City,” has some important lessons for national policymakers about the “gig economy,” but not the one involving apps or platforms. This gig economy is the analog version of workers and employers reaching arrangements and transactions for cash. As legislators and scholars study the issues involved in the future of work, questions persist about the effectiveness of employment regimes for marginalized workers in the new economy.
Of course, there are many facets of the Las Vegas economy that lend themselves to day or casual labor. First the importance of the construction economy and home building in the booming years of the last two decades meant that much work took place in the informal economy with many violations going underreported and unenforced.
This Report also sits at the intersection of dysfunctional politics of immigration. Until the logjams in the federal government are broken, and better solutions in immigration policy are reached, the problems outlined in this report are likely to persist. It is only through the sustained work of civil society groups throughout the country that we are likely to see marginal improvements.
–Nik Theodore & Bliss Requa-Trautz, Day Labor in Las Vegas: Employer Indiscretions in Sin City
The report is based on interviews with day laborers that ¡Arriba! Las Vegas Worker Center conducted at informal-sector hiring sites (for example, commonly used spaces in front of Home Depot). It discusses prevailing wage rates and hours, as well as pervasive problems of wage theft, injuries and unsafe conditions, and intimidation and harassment by Metro police and immigration enforcement. (More than nine-tenths of day-laborers at Las Vegas hiring sites are documented or undocumented immigrants.)
For more about ¡Arriba! Las Vegas Worker Center, see arribalasvegas.org.
- The average wage rates in the Vegas Valley are generally pretty good right now, averaging just over $20/hr for day labor and around $25/hr for some specific, high-demand jobs like construction and moving jobs. But this has to be taken with some caution because of the high variation and unpredictability of the number of hours available — your only job for the day may give you a full workday at those wages, or it may only get you two or three hours’ pay.↩