The Security Guard Study

The goal of this research is to examine the effects of wage increases on security guards, another group of lower wage workers.  Like the hospital service workers we have been studying, security guards have formed a union and recently negotiated a contract with their employers that will increase their wages toward $15 an hour over the next several years.  We are surveying the security guards to understand how these incremental wage increases impact their lives.



Research Objectives

What hardships do workers experience under the current wage structure, as well as under the improved wage structure? How does a wage increase address some of these hardships?

How do wage increases affect the following domains:

  • participation in public benefits and community nonprofits;
  • participation in employer benefits;
  • workers’ mental and physical health;
  • workers’ ability to save;
  • participation in family and community life;
  • workers’ feelings about and commitment to their work


The sample includes 200 unionized security guards working in a range of buildings across the city of Pittsburgh.

Research Method

A single survey was used to collect data. Both paper surveys as well as an online survey were distributed in a collaboration between researchers and local organizers.


Heinz Endowments