UCLA Releases First U.S. Study of Labor Conditions in Nail Salons

More than three-fourths of nail salon employees are low-wage workers, according to a new UCLA report that is the first to examine the multibillion-dollar nail salon industry nationally with a focus on labor conditions.

The report, “Nail Files: A Study of Nail Salon Workers and Industry in the United States,” by the UCLA Labor Center and the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, takes a hard look at key issues, trends, and areas of oversight. It is based on existing literature, policy reports, worker stories, and government and industry sources.

Other findings in the report include:

  • Nail salon workers experience challenging work conditions and labor enforcement issues. Misclassification as independent contractors is also a key concern.
  • Nail salons are primarily owned and staffed by immigrants and refugees. The majority of salons are small mom-and-pop businesses with 68 percent having fewer than five employees. The labor force is predominantly Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Nepali, Tibetan, and Latin, with 81 percent women and 79 percent foreign-born.
  • The nail salon industry is expected to grow at almost twice the rate of other U.S. industries in the next decade.

The UCLA Labor Center is housed in the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, a multidisciplinary research center dedicated to the study, teaching, and discussion of labor and employment issues at UCLA. The California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative works to improve the health, safety, and rights of the nail and beauty care workforce to achieve a healthier, more sustainable, and just industry.

California’s Board of Barbering and Cosmetology promotes workers’ rights and responsibilities in addition to its mission of ensuring the health and safety of California consumers by promoting ethical standards and by enforcing the laws of the barbering and beauty industry.

In 2017, the board held two town hall events for the industry (one in Northern California, the other in Southern California) focusing on workers’ rights to educate attendees, including its licensees. During these events, the board also introduced its publication “Understanding Workers’ Rights and Responsibilities,” which is available on its website at www.barbercosmo.ca.gov.

The board licenses and regulates manicurists and the establishments they work in. Verify licenses at www.barbercosmo.ca.gov and look for them posted conspicuously in salons.

Download UCLA’s report at http://bit.ly/Nail_Files.

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