Wage Theft Costs Low-Paid California Workers $2B Per Year

Labor News

Photo: FREDERIC J. BROWN, AFP/Getty Images Workers celebrate in 2016 outside the Ronald Reagan State Building in downtown Los Angeles, where California Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill that will raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. Despite hikes in the state’s minimum wage, wage theft remains a persistent problem for low-paid workers.

Reprinted from The San Francisco Chronicle by Dominic Fracassa on May 26, 2017.

Each year, minimum-wage violations by California employers sap the state’s workforce of nearly $2 billion in earnings, increasing the financial vulnerability of already at-risk populations and creating a drag on the state’s overall economic health, according to a report released this month by The Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank in Washington.

Employees who are supposed to be getting paid the minimum wage in California are, on average, losing $64 per week and about $3,300 annually — 22 percent of their earnings — from employers shortchanging their hourly workers.

Though the current state minimum wage of $10.50 an hour translates to an annual salary of $21,840, minimum-wage workers don’t always have full-time work, so they collect only $11,700 a year in wages on average. That forces them “to rely on public assistance programs to survive and provide for their families,” the report’s authors wrote.

Their findings suggest that, despite California’s reputation as a bastion of worker-friendly labor laws, wage theft — a broad term that can be invoked any time an employer doesn’t follow those laws — remains a pernicious problem. ….

SF Chronicle 5/26

About Jeffrey Burman 3097 Articles
Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at jeffrey.s.burman.57@gmail.com.

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