By Catherine Singley Harvey, Manager, Economic Policy Project, NCLR
On Tuesday, the Obama administration announced a proposal to greatly expand the number of workers who would be eligible for overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours a week.
The proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Labor would raise the salary threshold to determine which workers are covered by overtime protections from $455 a week ($23,660 a year) to about $970 a week ($50,440 a year). The administration estimates that five million salaried workers would see their wages rise next year if this change is approved. Latinos would especially benefit since 44 percent earn less than $50,000 a year.
This widely popular change is long overdue. In 1975, 62 percent of salaried workers were covered by overtime; today only 8 percent are covered. As a result, millions more Americans are working long hours but are still unable to cover basic costs like proper nutrition, school supplies, and rent. In fact, the current salary threshold for overtime is below the poverty line for a family of four. Outdated overtime rules are contributing to stagnant wages that are holding working families back.
Strong resistance from business lobbyists has halted all but one update to the overtime threshold since the 1970s. But President Obama made it a priority for his second term, instructing U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez to fix overtime in 2013. Secretary Perez’s proposed rule does that, plus it calls for the salary threshold rise automatically so that it doesn’t get stuck again.
Now it’s up to us, the public, to show our support. Visit fixovertime.org to calculate what the change could mean for your take home pay and to tell Secretary Perez to make fixing overtime a reality.