Inside monopsony: A mixed methods approach to understanding how labor standards shape employment practices in the restaurant industry

Project Summary:

This research will look at how regional variations in labor market regulations influence the types of businesses that locate in those regions, and the employment practices of those businesses. The analysis will focus on San Francisco, which has relatively comprehensive locally enforced labor standards, and the North Carolina Research Triangle, which lacks strong labor standards. This research project seeks to understand how locally-enacted labor standards that aim to reduce inequality reshape the structure of work in low-wage industries, with a specific focus on the restaurant industry.


Bill Lester is an Assistant Professor at the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, specializing in economic development. His research focuses on the role of labor market institutions in fostering greater equity at the urban and metropolitan level. He is an expert on the impact of minimum wage and living wage policies on urban economic development. 

Lester employs quantitative and qualitative methods drawn from the fields of labor economics, political science, and regional development. While his research on the minimum wage and living wage has garnered national attention—including a mention in the State of the Union address—he continues to broaden his research agenda within the field of economic development.

Lester received his Ph.D. in city and regional planning from the University of California, Berkeley, his Masters in urban planning and policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and his B.A. (Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in urban studies and economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Selected Publications