OVERTIME: FINALLY, A BREAK FOR THE MIDDLE CLASSThe U.S….

OVERTIME: FINALLY, A BREAK FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

The
U.S. Department of Labor just proposed raising the overtime threshold – what you can be
paid and still qualify to be paid “time-and-a-half” beyond 40
hours per week – from $23,600 a year to $50,400.

This is a big deal. Some 5
million workers will get a raise. (See accompanying video, which we made last month.)

Business
lobbies are already hollering this will kill jobs. That’s what they always predict – whether it’s raising the
minimum wage, Obamacare, family and medical leave, or better worker
safety. Yet their predictions never turn out to be true.  

In
fact, the new rule is likely to increase the number of jobs. That’s because employers
who don’t want to pay
overtime have an obvious option: They can hire more workers and employ each of them
for no more than 40 hours a week.

It’s high time for
this change. When the overtime threshold was at its peak a half-century ago,
more than 60 percent of salaried workers qualified for overtime pay. But inflation
has eroded that old threshold. Today, only about 8 percent of salaried workers
qualify.

Overtime
pay has become such a rarity that many Americans don’t even realize that
the majority of salaried workers were once eligible for it.

We
just keep working longer and harder, for less. A recent Gallup poll found that
salaried Americans now report working an average of 47 hours a week—not the supposedly
standard 40—while
18 percent
of Americans report working more than 60 hours a week.

Meanwhile,
corporate profits have doubled over the last three decades – from about 6% of
GDP to about 12% – while wages have fallen by almost exactly the same amount.

The erosion of overtime and other labor protections is one of the main factors

Originally appeared at: http://robertreich.org/post/122870778845