);

Analysis of How Much Missouri Workers Are Losing Under Attorney General Josh Hawley’s Overtime Pay Cut

While Missouri’s economy is growing, working families across the state are struggling, squeezed between flat paychecks and the rising cost of necessities. One factor dragging down paychecks is the erosion of overtime pay. The salary level below which workers are guaranteed overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours a week has not been updated in years, causing the share of salaried middle-class workers automatically eligible for overtime to plummet from 62 percent in 1975 to less than 7 percent today.[1]

­

Executive Summary

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor ordered a long overdue update to restore overtime pay protections to middle-class workers earning less than about $48,000 a year. However, this overtime pay raise was blocked in Missouri and nationwide as the result of a lawsuit brought by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley. As a result of the lawsuit, hundreds of thousands of Missourians lost out on overtime pay rights.

This report provides data for the first time on the local impact on Missouri workers of Attorney General  Hawley’s action blocking this middle-class raise. Starting with state-level data available from the Economic Policy Institute, the report breaks down the impact, county by county.

 

The key findings include:

  • Statewide, 237,000 Missourians lost overtime pay protections as a result of Hawley’s lawsuit.
  • Workers in every county across the state lost overtime protections, including 36,000 workers in St. Louis County, 22,000 in Jackson County, 17,000 in Greene County and 13,000 in St. Charles County.
  • As a result, this year and every year Missouri workers are losing $27 million in overtime raises. That’s $27 million in badly needed higher pay that workers across the state are losing ever year because of the lawsuit brought by Hawley to block the overtime raise.
  • In other states, including California, New York, Washington State, and Pennsylvania, governors and state legislatures are responding to the blocked federal overtime pay expansion by acting under state law to deliver this raise.
  • Missouri’s governor and legislature should follow those states’ lead and act quickly to deliver this badly needed overtime raise for the state’s workers.
  • Past polling found that Missouri voters support an overtime pay expansion by an overwhelming 76 to 16 percent margin.

This report provides background on the overtime pay issue, presents the data on the impact across the state of blocking the overtime pay raise, and explains how Missouri’s governor and legislature can act to finally make these overtime raises happen.

 

  1. Background on the Lawsuit Blocking the Federal Overtime Pay Restoration

Despite a growing economy and record corporate profits and CEO pay, paychecks for most of the workforce are barely keeping up with the rising cost of living.[2] One of the reasons is eroding pay protections, including those for overtime pay.

It used to be that if you worked more than 40 hours a week, your employer would pay you time-and-a-half for those extra hours. There was an exemption for managers and professional employees, but only for workers who were both highly paid above a salary threshold and had specific management responsibilities or professional roles. Those protections ensured that most workers didn’t have to work excessive hours—and that if they did, they would receive extra pay to make up for it.

Back in 1975, the overtime salary threshold for that exemption was the equivalent of $61,200 a year, and 62 percent of salaried workers in the U.S. were automatically eligible for overtime pay.[3] Today, the level has plummeted to less than 7 percent because the salary threshold has been frozen at just $23,660 since 2004.[4] As a result, many low-paid employees like assistant managers at fast-food restaurants, retail stores, health insurance companies and the like who struggle on salaries of $25,000 to $45,000 a year aren’t eligible for overtime and can be forced to work 50, 60, or even 70 hours a week for no extra pay.

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor updated the overtime salary threshold to $47,476 a year—a moderate increase that would not even have fully restored overtime to the 62 percent of salaried workers who used to receive it.[5]

But a group of 21 state attorneys general, including Missouri’s Josh Hawley, sued and blocked this middle-class pay raise for their own constituents.[6]

While legal experts and even the Trump Administration believed the court’s ruling was erroneous and was likely to be reversed on appeal,[7] the administration announced in 2017 that the U.S. Department of Labor would rewrite the blocked overtime rule, most likely rolling back this long overdue pay raise and replacing it with weaker protections for fewer workers.[8] In September 2018, the Trump Labor Department scheduled a series of “listening sessions” as part of this effort to revise the rule and substitute weaker protections for fewer workers.[9]

Despite the rollback of the overtime restoration by Hawley, employer surveys show that 50 percent or more of national companies, including major retailers, restaurant chains, and banks, have already adopted the higher, updated overtime standards and adjusted their pay scales.[10] That shows that restoring overtime pay is economically realistic and would not entail a burdensome transition for businesses.

 

  1. The Impact of the Blocked Overtime Pay Restoration in Missouri—and the Benefits of Finally Delivering It

In this report we use state-level data available from the Economic Policy Institute, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the U.S. Census Bureau to analyze for each county across Missouri how many workers lost overtime pay as a result of Hawley’s blocking the U.S. Labor Department’s overtime pay restoration—and how many would regain those protections if Missouri’s governor and legislature act to deliver this long overdue raise.

As summarized in Table 1, the data show that a total of 237,000 workers across Missouri lost overtime pay as a result of the Hawley lawsuit.

Missouri Workers Who Lost Stronger Overtime Pay Protections:

236,838

A typical worker who lost out on expanded overtime pay was an assistant manager at a big-box retail store or a restaurant chain who earns $25,000 to $45,000 a year. Other affected workers include low-level, low-paid managers at banks, health insurance companies, and a wide range of other types of businesses.Workers in every county across the state lost overtime protections, including 36,000 workers in St. Louis County, 22,000 in Jackson County, 17,000 in Greene County and 13,000 in St. Charles County. See Table 1.

These workers, of which there are many thousands in Missouri, would have had overtime pay restored under the 2016 U.S. Labor Department expansion if Hawley had not blocked it in court.

As Table 2 details, as a result, this year and every year Missouri workers are losing $27 million in unpaid overtime. That’s $27 million in badly needed higher pay that workers across the state are losing ever year because of the lawsuit brought by Hawley to block the overtime raise.

That figure for total lost pay combines projections for two types of lost raises.  The first is the total of estimated unpaid overtime hours being worked each year by workers who would have been covered under the updated overtime protections.  The second part consists of estimated raises for workers whose employers would likely have raised their salaries up to the level of the new overtime threshold in order to keep them exempt from overtime requirements.

 

  1. Missouri’s Governor and Legislature Should Follow the Lead of Other States and Act Quickly to Deliver the Long Overdue Middle-Class Overtime Raise

In other states, including Pennsylvania, Washington State, California and New York, governors and state legislatures are responding to the blocked federal overtime pay expansion by acting under state law to deliver this raise. For example, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf[11] and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee[12] this year both directed their state labor departments to update their overtime regulations to expand overtime pay—a process that is now underway in both states. California’s overtime salary threshold is already in the process of increasing to $62,400 a year by 2022.[13] And New York’s overtime salary threshold is increasing to $58,500 a year by late 2021 in the suburbs and by late 2018 in New York City, and by a date still to be determined in the reminder of the state.[14]

Missouri’s governor and legislature should follow those states’ lead and act quickly to deliver this badly needed overtime raise for the state’s workers. Past polling found that Missouri voters support an overtime pay expansion by an overwhelming 76 to 16 percent margin.[15]

Updating Missouri’s overtime rules would finally deliver this long overdue raise for 237,000 or more middle-class workers across the state.

 

Tables

Table 1. Missouri Workers Statewide and by County Who Lost Stronger Overtime Pay Protections
Missouri 236,838
Adair County 1,404
Andrew County 266
Atchison County 227
Audrain County 1,076
Barry County 1,634
Barton County 441
Bates County 465
Benton County 526
Bollinger County 276
Boone County 8,665
Buchanan County 4,457
Butler County 2,661
Caldwell County 177
Callaway County 1,116
Camden County 2,652
Cape Girardeau County 4,345
Carroll County 297
Carter County 222
Cass County 3,303
Cedar County 475
Chariton County 236
Christian County 2,455
Clark County 195
Clay County 7,892
Clinton County 482
Cole County 4,059
Cooper County 646
Crawford County 741
Dade County 202
Dallas County 407
Daviess County 200
DeKalb County 310
Dent County 559
Douglas County 412
Dunklin County 1,737
Franklin County 4,455
Gasconade County 802
Gentry County 286
Greene County 16,857
Grundy County 362
Harrison County 373
Henry County 883
Hickory County 206
Holt County 137
Howard County 388
Howell County 2,107
Iron County 363
Jackson County 22,423
Jasper County 6,468
Jefferson County 5,766
Johnson County 1,725
Knox County 165
Laclede County 1,933
Lafayette County 1,063
Lawrence County 1,068
Lewis County 347
Lincoln County 1,235
Linn County 470
Livingston County 790
Macon County 570
Madison County 563
Maries County 155
Marion County 1,671
McDonald County 945
Mercer County 223
Miller County 953
Mississippi County 535
Moniteau County 511
Monroe County 239
Montgomery County 371
Morgan County 644
New Madrid County 851
Newton County 2,184
Nodaway County 904
Oregon County 405
Osage County 425
Ozark County 255
Pemiscot County 789
Perry County 1,208
Pettis County 2,546
Phelps County 1,911
Pike County 698
Platte County 4,000
Polk County 1,063
Pulaski County 1,532
Putnam County 113
Ralls County 320
Randolph County 1,088
Ray County 441
Reynolds County 280
Ripley County 518
Saline County 1,103
Schuyler County 57
Scotland County 134
Scott County 1,925
Shannon County 249
Shelby County 209
St. Charles County 13,158
St. Clair County 251
St. Francois County 3,139
St. Louis City 12,514
St. Louis County 36,223
Ste. Genevieve County 504
Stoddard County 1,344
Stone County 806
Sullivan County 222
Taney County 5,039
Texas County 738
Vernon County 787
Warren County 805
Washington County 763
Wayne County 482
Webster County 927
Worth County 45
Wright County 613
Source: NELP Action analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), the Economic Policy Institute and the Current Population Survey.

 

Table 2: Total Overtime Pay Raises Lost Per Year by Missouri Workers
$26,698,570
Source: NELP Action analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), the Economic Policy Institute and the Current Population Survey.

 

Appendix: About the Data

The analysis in this report was prepared with the generous permission of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), and draws on state-level analyses by EPI of the impact of the 2016 U.S. Department of Labor overtime raise. Beginning with EPI’s estimates of statewide worker impact and its estimates of overtime pay lost annually, the analysis then used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages and the Current Population Survey to update those estimates to the present, and to estimate county-level impacts.

 

Endnotes

[1]           Economic Policy Institute, What’s at stake in the states if the 2016 federal raise to the overtime pay threshold is not preserved—and what states can do about it (Nov. 15, 2017), available at https://www.epi.org/publication/whats-at-stake-in-the-states-if-the-2016-federal-raise-to-the-overtime-pay-threshold-is-not-preserved/

[2]           “In U.S., wage growth is being wiped out entirely by inflation,” Washington Post (August 10, 2018), available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2018/08/10/america-wage-growth-is-getting-wiped-out-entirely-by-inflation/?utm_term=.364004afa05d

[3]           Economic Policy Institute, What’s at stake in the states if the 2016 federal raise to the overtime pay threshold is not preserved—and what states can do about it

[4]           Ibid.

[5]           “White Increases Overtime Eligibility by Millions,” New York Times (May 17, 2018), available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/18/business/white-house-increases-overtime-eligibility-by-millions.html

[6]           Office of the Missouri Attorney General, Press Release, AG Josh Hawley Challenges Obama Administration Overtime Rules  (Jan. 25, 2017), available at: https://www.ago.mo.gov/home/ag-josh-hawley-challenges-obama-administration-overtime-rules

[7]           “Labor Department to Appeal Court Ruling Striking Down Obama-Era Overtime-Pay Rule Trump; administration remains likely to significantly change regulations,” Wall Street Journal (Oct. 27, 2017), available at: https://www.wsj.com/articles/labor-department-to-appeal-court-ruling-striking-down-obama-era-overtime-rule-1509141625 See also Brief for Defendant-Appellant, Nevada v. U.S. Dep’t of Lab. No. 16-41606 (5th Cir. June 30, 2017).

[8]           ”Labor Department to Start Process of Revising Overtime Rule,” Wall Street Journal (July 25, 2017), available at: https://www.wsj.com/articles/labor-department-to-start-process-of-revising-overtime-rule-1501002130?mod=article_inline

[9]           U.S. Department of Labor, “White Collar Exemption Regulations; Public Listening Sessions,” 83 Federal Register 43825 (Aug. 28, 2018), available at: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/08/28/2018-18649/white-collar-exemption-regulations-public-listening-sessions

[10]         “The State and Fate of Overtime, ComplianceHR (Oct. 27, 2017), available at: http://event.lvl3.on24.com/event/15/06/73/3/rt/1/documents/resourceList1507125242509/web__chr__1004__final.pdf

[11]         “Pa. proposal would boost overtime for half a million workers,” Philadelphia Inquirer (June 26, 2018), available at http://www2.philly.com/philly/blogs/inq-phillydeals/overtime-labor-employment-trump-wolf-pennsylvania-overtime-20180626.html

[12]         Washington State Dep’t of Labor & Industries, Overtime EAP Rulemaking, available at https://lni.us.engagementhq.com/learn-about-eap-exemptions

[13]         “California’s Exempt Salary Threshold Will Rise Regardless of Blocked Overtime Rule,” Society for Human Resource Management (Dec. 15, 2016), available at https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/state-and-local-updates/pages/overtime-california-employers.aspx

[14]         New York’s overtime salary threshold for the Executive and Administrative Exemption is increasing to $1,125 a week, which is $58,500 a year. See New York State Department of Labor, Miscellaneous Industry Wage Order Summary, available at: https://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/wp/Part142.pdf ; New York State Department of Labor, Hospitality Industry Wage Order Summary, available at: https://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/wp/Part146.pdf

[15]         Public Policy Polling, Missouri Survey Results (Aug. 26-28, 2016), available at: http://nelpaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Missouri-Public-Policy-Survey-Results-Aug-2016.pdf

 

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Analysis of How Much Michigan Workers Are Losing Under Bill Schuette’s Overtime Pay Cut

While Michigan’s economy is growing, working families across the state are struggling, squeezed between flat paychecks and the rising cost of necessities. One factor dragging down paychecks is the erosion of overtime pay. The salary level below which workers are guaranteed overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours a week has not been updated in years, causing the share of salaried middle-class workers automatically eligible for overtime to plummet from 62 percent in 1975 to less than 7 percent today.[1]

Executive Summary

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor ordered a long overdue update to restore overtime pay protections for middle-class workers earning less than about $48,000 a year. However, this overtime pay raise was blocked in Michigan and nationwide as the result of a lawsuit brought by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. As a result of the lawsuit, hundreds of thousands of Michiganders lost out on overtime pay rights.

This report provides data for the first time on the local impact on Michigan workers of Schuette’s action blocking this middle-class raise. Starting with state-level data available from the Economic Policy Institute, the report breaks down the impact, county by county.

 

The key findings include the following:

  • Statewide, 271,000 Michiganders lost overtime pay protections as a result of Schuette’s lawsuit.
  • Workers in every county across the state lost overtime protections. The largest impact was in Oakland County, with 36,000 workers losing pay protections.
  • In other large counties, the impacts included 34,000 workers in Wayne County, 30,000 in Kent County, 19,000 in Macomb County, 10,500 in Genesee County. 9,000 workers in Ottawa County, and 8,000 in Kalamazoo County.
  • In smaller counties, impacts included 4,000 workers in Grand Traverse County, and 2,000 workers in Marquette County.
  • As a result, this year and every year Michigan workers are losing $37 million in overtime raises. That’s $37 million in badly needed higher pay that workers across the state are losing ever year because of the lawsuit brought by Schuette to block the overtime raise.
  • In other states, including California, New York, Washington State, and Pennsylvania, governors and state legislatures are responding to the blocked federal overtime pay expansion by acting under state law to deliver this raise.
  • Michigan’s governor and legislature should follow those states’ lead and act quickly to deliver this badly needed overtime raise for the state’s workers.
  • In particular, under Michigan law, the governor, acting through the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, has the power to update overtime pay on his or her own without need for action by the legislature. Governors in Pennsylvania and Washington State are already doing so.
  • Michigan voters support expanding overtime pay eligibility for the state’s workers by an overwhelming 75 to 18 percent margin, according to a spring 2018 poll by EPIC/MRA.

This report provides background on the overtime pay issue, presents the data on the impact across the state of blocking the overtime pay raise, and explains how Michigan’s governor and legislature can act to finally make these overtime raises happen.

  1. Background on the Lawsuit Blocking the Federal Overtime Pay Restoration

Despite a growing economy and record corporate profits and CEO pay, paychecks for most of the workforce are barely keeping up with the rising cost of living.[2] One of the reasons is eroding pay protections, including those for overtime pay.

It used to be that if you worked more than 40 hours a week, your employer would pay you time-and-a-half for those extra hours. There was an exemption for managers and professional employees, but only for workers who were both highly paid above a salary threshold and had specific management responsibilities or professional roles. Those protections ensured that most workers didn’t have to work excessive hours—and that if they did, they would receive extra pay to make up for it.

Back in 1975, the overtime salary threshold for that exemption was the equivalent of $61,200 a year, and 62 percent of salaried workers in the U.S. were automatically eligible for overtime pay.[3] Today, the level has plummeted to less than 7 percent because the salary threshold has been frozen at just $23,660 since 2004.[4] As a result, many low-paid employees like assistant managers at fast-food restaurants, retail stores, health insurance companies and the like who struggle on salaries of $25,000 to $45,000 a year aren’t eligible for overtime and can be forced to work 50, 60, or even 70 hours a week for no extra pay.

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor updated the overtime salary threshold to $47,476 a year—a moderate increase that would not even have fully restored overtime to the 62 percent of salaried workers who used to receive it.[5]

But a group of 21 state attorneys general, including Michigan’s Bill Schuette, sued and blocked this middle-class pay raise for their own constituents.[6]

While legal experts and even the Trump Administration believed the court’s ruling was erroneous and was likely to be reversed on appeal,[7] the administration announced in 2017 that the U.S. Department of Labor would rewrite the blocked overtime rule, most likely rolling back this long overdue pay raise and replacing it with weaker protections for fewer workers.[8] In September 2018, the Trump Labor Department scheduled a series of “listening sessions” as part of this effort to revise the rule and substitute weaker protections for fewer workers.[9]

Despite the rollback of the overtime restoration by Schuette, employer surveys show that 50 percent or more of national companies, including major retailers, restaurant chains, and banks, have already adopted the higher, updated overtime standards and adjusted their pay scales.[10] That shows that restoring overtime pay is economically realistic and would not entail a burdensome transition for businesses.

  1. The Impact of the Blocked Overtime Pay Restoration in Michigan—and the Benefits of Finally Delivering It

In this report we use state-level data available from the Economic Policy Institute, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the U.S. Census Bureau to analyze for each county across Michigan how many workers lost overtime pay as a result of Schuette’s blocking the U.S. Labor Department’s overtime pay restoration—and how many would regain those protections if Michigan’s governor and/or legislature act to deliver this long overdue raise.

As summarized in Table 1, the data show that a total of 271,000 workers across Michigan lost overtime pay as a result of the Schuette lawsuit.

Workers in every county across the state lost overtime protections. The largest impact was in Oakland County, with 36,000 workers losing pay protections. In other large counties, the impacts included 34,000 workers in Wayne County, 30,000 in Kent County, 19,000 in Macomb County, 10,500 in Genesee County. 9,000 workers in Ottawa County and 8,000 in Kalamazoo County. In smaller counties, impacts included 4,000 workers in Grand Traverse County, and 2,000 workers in Marquette County. See Table 1.

A typical worker who lost out on expanded overtime pay was an assistant manager at a big-box retail store or a restaurant chain who earns $25,000 to $45,000 a year. Other affected workers include low-level, low-paid managers at banks, health insurance companies, and a wide range of other types of businesses.

These workers, of which there are many thousands in Michigan, would have had overtime pay restored under the 2016 U.S. Labor Department expansion if Schuette had not blocked it in court.

As Table 2 details, as a result, this year and every year Michigan workers are losing $37 million in overtime raises they would otherwise have received. That’s $37 million in badly needed higher pay that workers across the state are losing ever year because of the lawsuit brought by Schuette to block the overtime raise.

That figure for total lost pay combines projections for two types of lost raises.  The first is the total of estimated unpaid overtime hours being worked each year by workers who would have been covered under the updated overtime protections.  The second consists of estimated raises for workers whose employers would likely have raised their salaries up to the level of the new overtime threshold in order to keep them exempt from overtime requirements.

  1. Michigan’s Governor and Legislature Should Follow the Lead of Other States and Act Quickly to Deliver the Long Overdue Middle-Class Overtime Raise

In other states, including Pennsylvania, Washington State, California and New York, governors and state legislatures are responding to the blocked federal overtime pay expansion by acting under state law to deliver this raise. For example, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf[11] and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee[12] this year both directed their state labor departments to update their overtime regulations to expand overtime pay—a process that is now underway in both states. California’s overtime salary threshold is already in the process of increasing to $62,400 a year by 2022.[13] And New York’s overtime salary threshold is increasing to $58,500 a year by late 2021 in the suburbs and by late 2018 in New York City, and by a date still to be determined in the reminder of the state.[14]

Michigan Workers Who Lost Stronger Overtime Pay Protections:

270,880

Michigan’s governor and legislature should follow those states’ lead and act quickly to deliver this badly needed overtime raise for the state’s workers. In particular, under Michigan law, the governor, acting through the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, has authority to update the applicable overtime pay rules on his or her own without need for action by the legislature.[15] Michigan’s governor thus has the power to deliver the long overdue overtime raise, as governors are currently doing in Pennsylvania and Washington State.

Alternatively, the Michigan legislature also has the power to expand overtime pay, and legislation to do so has been introduced in past sessions.[16]

Michigan voters support expanding overtime pay eligibility for the state’s workers by an overwhelming 75 to 18 percent margin, according to a spring 2018 poll by EPIC/MRA. Broken out by partisan affiliation, the poll found support for overtime expansion among 85 percent of Democratic voters, 67 percent of Republican voters, and 65 percent of Independents, along with 65 percent of Tea Party members.[17]

Updating Michigan’s overtime rules would finally deliver this long overdue raise for 271,000 or more middle-class workers across the state.

 

Tables

 

Table 1. Michigan Workers Statewide and by County Who Lost Stronger Overtime Pay Protections
State/County Total workers affected
Michigan 270,880
Alcona County 201
Alger County 189
Allegan County 2,841
Alpena County 1,209
Antrim County 663
Arenac County 557
Baraga County 149
Barry County 1,130
Bay County 2,893
Benzie County 534
Berrien County 4,242
Branch County 1,201
Calhoun County 3,374
Cass County 867
Charlevoix County 808
Cheboygan County 899
Chippewa County 1,021
Clare County 680
Clinton County 1,468
Crawford County 332
Delta County 1,387
Dickinson County 1,066
Eaton County 3,076
Emmet County 1,707
Genesee County 10,511
Gladwin County 435
Gogebic County 455
Grand Traverse County 4,301
Gratiot County 1,103
Hillsdale County 1,070
Houghton County 1,099
Huron County 1,103
Ingham County 8,712
Ionia County 2,779
Iosco County 796
Iron County 382
Isabella County 2,651
Jackson County 4,196
Kalamazoo County 7,775
Kalkaska County 232
Kent County 29,790
Keweenaw County 61
Lake County 180
Lapeer County 2,028
Leelanau County 637
Lenawee County 2,299
Livingston County 5,008
Luce County 187
Mackinac County 545
Macomb County 18,842
Manistee County 577
Marquette County 2,306
Mason County 1,053
Mecosta County 1,019
Menominee County 604
Midland County 1,892
Missaukee County 419
Monroe County 2,844
Montcalm County 1,463
Montmorency County 212
Muskegon County 5,616
Newaygo County 1,169
Oakland County 35,714
Oceana County 764
Ogemaw County 779
Ontonagon County 147
Osceola County 509
Oscoda County 226
Otsego County 1,092
Ottawa County 9,327
Presque Isle County 282
Roscommon County 719
Saginaw County 7,070
Sanilac County 1,253
Schoolcraft County 201
Shiawassee County 1,657
St. Clair County 3,700
St. Joseph County 2,362
Tuscola County 1,002
Van Buren County 1,790
Washtenaw County 8,096
Wayne County 33,981
Wexford County 1,361
Source: NELP Action analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), the Economic Policy Institute and the Current Population Survey.

 

Table 2: Total Overtime Pay Raises Lost Per Year by Michigan Workers
$37,370,076
Source: NELP Action analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), the Economic Policy Institute and the Current Population Survey.

 

Appendix: About the Data

The analysis in this report was prepared with data available from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), and draws on state-level analyses by EPI of the impact of the 2016 U.S. Department of Labor overtime raise. Beginning with EPI’s estimates of statewide worker impact and its estimates of overtime pay lost annually, the analysis then used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages and the Current Population Survey to update those estimates to the present, and to estimate county-level impacts.

Endnotes

[1]          Economic Policy Institute, What’s at stake in the states if the 2016 federal raise to the overtime pay threshold is not preserved—and what states can do about it (Nov. 15, 2017), available at https://www.epi.org/publication/whats-at-stake-in-the-states-if-the-2016-federal-raise-to-the-overtime-pay-threshold-is-not-preserved/

[2]           “In U.S., wage growth is being wiped out entirely by inflation,” Washington Post (August 10, 2018), available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2018/08/10/america-wage-growth-is-getting-wiped-out-entirely-by-inflation/?utm_term=.364004afa05d

[3]          Economic Policy Institute, What’s at stake in the states if the 2016 federal raise to the overtime pay threshold is not preserved—and what states can do about it

[4]          Ibid.

[5]          “White Increases Overtime Eligibility by Millions,” New York Times (May 17, 2018), available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/18/business/white-house-increases-overtime-eligibility-by-millions.html

[6]          “Michigan AG Bill Schuette says overtime rule would hurt job creation,” Michigan Live (Sept. 22, 2016), available at: https://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/09/schuette_says_hes_suing_becaus.html

[7]          “Labor Department to Appeal Court Ruling Striking Down Obama-Era Overtime-Pay Rule; Trump administration remains likely to significantly change regulations,” Wall Street Journal (Oct. 27, 2017), available at: https://www.wsj.com/articles/labor-department-to-appeal-court-ruling-striking-down-obama-era-overtime-rule-1509141625 See also Brief for Defendant-Appellant, Nevada v. U.S. Dep’t of Lab. No. 16-41606 (5th Cir. June 30, 2017).

[8]          ”Labor Department to Start Process of Revising Overtime Rule,” Wall Street Journal (July 25, 2017), available at: https://www.wsj.com/articles/labor-department-to-start-process-of-revising-overtime-rule-1501002130?mod=article_inline

[9]          U.S. Department of Labor, “White Collar Exemption Regulations; Public Listening Sessions,” 83 Federal Register 43825 (Aug. 28, 2018), available at: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/08/28/2018-18649/white-collar-exemption-regulations-public-listening-sessions

[10]         “The State and Fate of Overtime, ComplianceHR (Oct. 27, 2017), available at: http://event.lvl3.on24.com/event/15/06/73/3/rt/1/documents/resourceList1507125242509/web__chr__1004__final.pdf

[11]         “Pa. proposal would boost overtime for half a million workers,” Philadelphia Inquirer (June 26, 2018), available at: http://www2.philly.com/philly/blogs/inq-phillydeals/overtime-labor-employment-trump-wolf-pennsylvania-overtime-20180626.html

[12]         Washington State Dep’t of Labor & Industries, Overtime EAP Rulemaking, available at https://lni.us.engagementhq.com/learn-about-eap-exemptions

[13]          “California’s Exempt Salary Threshold Will Rise Regardless of Blocked Overtime Rule,” Society for Human Resource Management (Dec. 15, 2016), available at https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/state-and-local-updates/pages/overtime-california-employers.aspx

[14]          New York’s overtime salary threshold for the Executive and Administrative Exemption is increasing to $1,125 a week, which is $58,500 a year. See New York State Department of Labor, Miscellaneous Industry Wage Order Summary, available at: https://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/wp/Part142.pdf ; New York State Department of Labor, Hospitality Industry Wage Order Summary, available at: https://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/wp/Part146.pdf

[15]         Mich. Comp. Laws. Ann. § 408.414a(4)(a) exempts “employees who are employed in in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity” from overtime pay and authorizes the director of the Department Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to define those terms by rule. Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 408.414a(5). While the department’s current regulations defining those terms incorporate a very low $250 a week salary threshold, the governor and the director can update the regulations to raise the threshold.

[16]         Michigan State Senate, S.B. 1137 of 2016, available at http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2015-2016/billintroduced/Senate/pdf/2016-SIB-1137.pdf

[17]         EPIC MRA Statewide Poll of Active and Likely November 2018 Voters, Michigan Survey Results (Apr. 28-30, 2018), available at: http://nelpaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Michigan-Public-Policy-Survey-Results-Apr-2016.pdf

 

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Senate races may turn on minimum wage, overtime

by Mitchell Hirsch, NELP Action

Thanks to the Fight for $15 and the way it has galvanized workers and their advocates across the country, we’ve seen incredible momentum for raising wages and addressing economic inequality over the past few years.  And though we celebrate the stunning victories in New York and California that have set millions of low-wage workers on the path to $15 an hour, we cannot lose sight of the fact that tens of millions of other of our nation’s workers are being held back thanks to gridlock in Congress and Republican intransigence.

But as a new report from the National Employment Law Project Action Fund makes clear, this year offers an unprecedented opportunity for low-wage workers and their allies to break the logjam in the U.S. Senate by electing champions who will lead on the issue and put a minimum wage hike within reach.

24 Republican seats are up for election this year and in those 24 states, there are 27 million workers who are paid less than $15 an hour – including nearly 20 million who are paid less than $12 an hour. If even a fraction of those workers mobilize around the issue in tight senate races like Arizona, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, they could tip those races and the balance of the Senate, giving the majority to the Democrats who stand ready to do all they can to enact a robust minimum wage increase.

Fearing the groundswell of support for a higher minimum wage, Republicans try to hedge the issue, claiming it should be handled at a state and local level.  But as the NELP Action report makes clear, voters should not be fooled by their rhetoric.  Across the country, Republican state legislators are affirmatively blocking cities from raising minimum wages and blocking any progress in state legislatures as well.  This means that if low-wage workers in more than 20 states ever hope to see an increase in the minimum wage, they will need Congressional action.

We know that across party lines, a large majority of voters want to see an increase in the minimum wage.  Recent polling in swing Senate states also shows that by margins of more than two-to-one voters want to raise wages and are more likely to vote for minimum wage champions, and less likely to vote for Republican incumbents when they learn about votes against or opposition to raising the minimum wage.

We also know that Democratic candidates who vigorously campaign on their support for gradually moving up to a $15 federal minimum wage– such as Russ Feingold in Wisconsin and Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania – are among the strongest contenders, based on the polls. Feingold is running well ahead of Sen. Ron Johnson, and McGinty, starting with little name recognition, has taken on a well-known incumbent and turned it into a neck-and-neck race.

These candidates, and others in Senate battleground states, are tapping into widespread frustration with gridlock on this and other important issues in Washington.  The 27 million workers in states where Republican Senate seats are up in this election who would benefit from an increase in the federal minimum wage are tired of their elected leaders ignoring the overwhelming will of their constituents, and instead doing the bidding of the business lobbies that fund their re-election campaigns.

The Fight for $15 has given birth to a massive grassroots mobilization by local advocates, activists, and underpaid workers to educate voters about this historic opportunity. They are ready to take this fight to the ballot box for the tens of millions of working people in need of a raise.  Incumbent Republican senators have a clear choice: get on the right side of this issue, or be prepared to lose your seats and see a Democratic majority that can and will lead on raising the minimum wage.

Mitchell Hirsch is a Senior Policy Advocate at the National Employment Law Project (NELP) Action Fund.
This column originally appeared on The Hill’s Congress Blog.

With Control of the Senate in the Balance…

Voter Turn-Out Program Focused on Raising the Minimum Wage to Kick Off in Key States

Polling shows minimum wage is a motivating issue for swing state voters

New report finds 27 million workers paid less than $15 reside in states with GOP senators who voted against wage hikes and whose seats are up in the 2016 elections

Top voter-mobilization organizations in nine states – including six states with closely watched U.S. Senate races – announced a massive grassroots canvassing operation to launch on Oct. 8. The program focuses on turning out voters around the urgent need to raise the minimum wage. Polling shows that raising the minimum wage commands strong bipartisan support, and voters are more likely to back candidates who favor raising the federal minimum wage.

Focused on bringing attention to candidate records on minimum wage in key senate races, scores of canvassers will knock on doors and talk to voters about the unprecedented opportunity to end Washington gridlock on raising the federal minimum wage. The effort comes as a new report from NELP Action shows that 27 million workers paid less than $15 live in states with Republican senators who voted against minimum wage hikes and whose seats are contested this year.

“For the 27 million workers who are paid less than $15 per hour in those states where Republican Senate seats are up in this election, it’s really not a question of what is keeping wages low—it is a question of who,” said Christine Owens, executive director of NELP Action.

The National Employment Law Project Action Fund, the Working Families Party and the Center for Popular Democracy Action Fund, along with labor and grassroots partners, pledged to knock on tens of thousands of doors over the weekend in the states with closely contested senate races including Arizona, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

In Arizona, as many as 500 canvassers and volunteers will be trained to knock on doors and talk to voters about the need to raise the wage, while 100 canvassers will in Philadelphia alone are expected to mobilize voters around raising pay.

Canvassers will also hit doors in Maine, Michigan and Vermont.

“We are bringing the movement for raising the minimum wage to the ballot box in November so that Russ Feingold can bring it to the halls of the U.S. Senate in the new Congress,” said Peter Rickman, Co-Chair of the Wisconsin Working Families Party. “Working class people are tired of Senators like Ron Johnson standing in the way of policies to reward hard work with fair pay. We are mobilizing and organizing working class people as voters to elect a Senator who will unrig this system and make the economy work for all of us, not just those at the top.”

The canvass comes as a new report from NELP Action examines how obstructionism on the issue by Republican senators has held down wages for millions of their own constituents. The report posits that “the 2016 elections offer a historic opportunity for working people to take decisive action at the ballot box to boost wages and working families’ incomes.”

Key findings in the report include:

  • 27 million workers who are paid less than $15 an hour live in the 24 states where Republican-held seats are up in 2016. This includes nearly 20 million who are paid less than $12 an hour.
  • Of the 21 states where the minimum wage is stuck at $7.25, 16 of them have Republican-held seats that are up in the 2016 elections.
  • Senate Republicans are siding with corporate lobbyists to deny new overtime pay guarantees to 12.5 million modestly-paid salaried workers. This includes 5.8 million in the 24 states where Republican-held Senate seats are up in 2016.

A late August poll by Public Policy Polling demonstrates the electoral potency of the minimum wage. In seven key swing states, support for incumbent Republican senators swung to Democratic challengers when respondents were made aware of their senator’s votes against the minimum wage. In Arizona, Missouri, and North Carolina that information allowed the Democratic challenger to pull ahead. A poll of underpaid workers by Harris Interactive and Yougov last year showed among registered voters paid less than $15, 65% are more likely to vote in the upcoming election if there is a candidate on the ballot who supports $15/hr and a union for all workers.

“For going on a decade, Republican senators like Pat Toomey have stood in the way of raising pay for families like mine,” said Melissa Hernandez, a group home worker who is volunteering on Saturday with Make the Road Pennsylvania. “I’m hitting the doors on Saturday to tell other underpaid workers that we have the power to break the gridlock in Washington – we just have to come out and use it at the ballot box on Nov. 8.”

 

Workers’ Pay Issues Could Decide Key 2016 U.S. Senate Races, Polls Reveal

by Mitchell Hirsch, NELP Action

In an election where control of the Senate hangs in the balance, where Democrats could win back the majority with as few as four victories in states with Republican-held seats up in 2016, voters casting their ballots based on workers’ pay issues could well determine the outcome and break the gridlock holding back wage increases for millions of America’s workers.

That’s the message from a series of polls released ahead of Labor Day that show incumbent Senate Republicans in several swing states facing tough reelection battles could be upended by their stands on policies affecting pay.  The polls reveal overwhelming support among voters in seven battleground states for raising the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at the poverty-level $7.25 per hour since 2009 due to Republican opposition in Congress, and for the new federal rule that vastly expands overtime pay guarantees to millions of salaried workers.  The polls in all seven states also showed strong majorities support a gradually phased in $15 minimum wage.

Perhaps most significantly, the polls showed that when voters weigh candidates’ positions on raising the federal minimum wage and expanding overtime pay, support for Republican Senate incumbents declined and support for their Democratic challengers increased, shifting the leads to the Democrats in some races and adding to their leads in others.  In all seven states polled, the minimum wage and overtime issues produced a net shift of between three and eight points in initial and follow up polling results.  In three states – Arizona, Missouri, and North Carolina – what were initial polling leads or ties for Republican incumbents flipped to leads for the Democratic candidates. In three other states – New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — Democratic challengers added to existing leads.  According to the poll results, workers’ pay issues could be decisive in potential Republican losses in six of the seven Senate races polled.

Senate polls before and after considering candidates’ positions on workers’ pay issues

senate7pollchart

The polls, which can be viewed here and here, were conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) for the NELP Action Fund among likely voters in Arizona, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin between August 26 and 29.  In all seven states, incumbent Republican senators are running for reelection this year, each with a record of voting against raising the federal minimum wage.

Voters across the swing states supported raising the federal minimum wage by approximately a 70% to 25% margin:

Support or oppose raising the federal minimum wage above $7.25

State Support Oppose
Arizona 68 28
Missouri 67 26
New Hampshire 74 24
North Carolina 72 23
Ohio 70 26
Pennsylvania 74 23
Wisconsin 70 26

 

Similarly, they supported raising the federal minimum wage first to $10, and then gradually to $15 over several years by roughly a 60% to 35% margin across the swing states:

Support or oppose gradually increasing federal minimum wage to $15

State Support Oppose
Arizona 60 37
Missouri 57 38
New Hampshire 63 34
North Carolina 61 34
Ohio 60 36
Pennsylvania 62 35
Wisconsin 63 33

 

Even stronger support was revealed for the expansion of the overtime pay guarantee for salaried workers paid less than $47,476 – up from $23,660 per year – under a new rule scheduled to take effect in December.  Under the rule, an additional 12.5 million salaried workers will be entitled to time-and-a-half overtime pay for any hours worked in excess of forty hours a week.  In the polls, support for the overtime expansion ranged from 76 to 81 percent, with monumental margins over those opposed ranging from 60 to 67 points.

Support or oppose expansion of overtime pay coverage for salaried workers making less than $47,000

State Support Oppose
Arizona 77 16
Missouri 76 16
New Hampshire 76 18
North Carolina 79 14
Ohio 80 14
Pennsylvania 81 15
Wisconsin 81 14

 

Voters were also asked how these issues would tend to affect their preferences in this year’s elections, both generically and in regard to specific candidates, and the results were remarkably consistent. Informed that Senate Republicans are actively seeking to block implementation of the overtime expansion, majorities in all seven states said they would be less likely or far less likely to support a candidate who sought to block the new rule, with less than a quarter more likely to support that candidate.

Similarly, when informed that the Republican incumbent senator running for reelection in their state opposes raising the federal minimum wage, a majority of voters in all seven states said they were less likely or far less likely to vote for that candidate, versus those more likely, with margins ranging from 50-39 in Ohio to 61-31 in Wisconsin.  And when told that the Democratic challenger for the Senate supports raising the federal minimum wage, majorities in each state said they were more likely or far more likely to vote for that candidate, versus those less likely, by margins ranging from 51-38 in Ohio to 61-31 in Wisconsin.

Of the seven states polled, four (New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) are among the 21 states where the minimum wage is stuck at the federal $7.25 per hour.  The minimum wage in the three other states is only slightly higher (Arizona $8.05, Missouri $7.65, Ohio $8.10) — and those states would still be stuck at the federal $7.25 as well, were it not for modest increases enacted by voters through ballot initiatives.

Politico broke the initial national story on the PPP polls, quoting NELP Action Fund executive director Christine Owens saying “Swing state voters in this election are looking for candidates who will stand with them in supporting a strong minimum wage increase, and elected officials who oppose raising the minimum wage do so at their political peril.”

The significance of the polls, and the prospect they signal that workers’ pay issues could affect the outcome of key Senate races, has been picked up in state coverage as well.  In Missouri, the Springfield News-Leader ran a lengthy feature news story focused on the results showing voters flipping the lead in the race from Senator Roy Blunt (R) to his challenger, Secretary of State Jason Kander (D), after weighing their stands on raising the minimum wage.  And, according to the blog Daily Kos, the Kander campaign was quick to promote the poll’s clear message, urging supporters to join the candidate’s call to raise the federal minimum wage.

In Pennsylvania, Penn Live highlighted the boost that Democratic challenger Katie McGinty is getting for actively campaigning for a $15 minimum wage while incumbent Senator Pat Toomey will likely pay a price with voters for his opposition to any minimum wage increase.  Similarly, in Wisconsin, Madison’s Capital Times featured the overwhelming 63 percent support the poll revealed for a $15 federal minimum wage, and this quote from Wisconsin Working Families co-chairman Peter Rickman: “This poll demonstrates that voters are looking to elect leaders who will raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, after decades of stagnant wage growth and dramatic growth of economic inequality.  Sen. Johnson does not even believe in a minimum wage, while former Sen. Feingold is a strong advocate for $15 — so we are engaging working people to find out more about the candidates and their positions on the $15 minimum wage at the ballot box.”

In Ohio, where Democratic Senate challenger Ted Strickland picked up three points in the follow up poll but remained six points behind incumbent Senator Rob Portman – the only challenger to not lead the incumbent in the follow up poll results – WCSM Radio reported on the 60 percent support from Ohioans for a $15 minimum wage. “Raising the minimum wage has bipartisan support among voters,” WCSM quoted NELP Action’s Paul Sonn as saying, “and leading strategists such as Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster, have warned if you are fighting against a minimum-wage increase, you’re fighting an uphill battle because most Americans, even most Republicans, support it.”

In the 2016 election cycle, a total of 34 U.S. Senate seats are being contested – 10 currently held by Democrats and 24 by Republicans, who now hold a slim four seat majority in that chamber.  With the polls in seven swing states showing the potential for losses by incumbents who oppose boosting workers’ pay, voters across the country this year can help break the Republicans’ blockade against raising the federal minimum wage.

Related stories

Opposing a Minimum Wage Hike Could Cost the GOP the Senate – Op-ed by Paul Sonn in Newsweek

With survey showing support for overtime rules, where do GOP senators stand? – Op-ed by Judy Conti in The Hill