Since President Obama announced last year that he would be raising the threshold for overtime pay eligibility, the big question has been how high he would raise it. Now we have an answer, and it's a good one.
Currently, salaried workers making as little as $23,660 a year can be denied overtime no matter how much they work. Early in 2015, the rumor was that the Obama administration would raise the threshold to around $42,000, an amount that would have covered around 35 percent of salaried workers, or an additional 3.5 million. That's a big boost, but by contrast, in 1975, 65 percent of salaried workers were covered. Progressives hoped for better than $42,000 from this administration ... and will get it. The president writes:
This week, I'll head to Wisconsin to discuss my plan to extend overtime protections to nearly 5 million workers in 2016, covering all salaried workers making up to about $50,400 next year. That's good for workers who want fair pay, and it's good for business owners who are already paying their employees what they deserve -- since those who are doing right by their employees are undercut by competitors who aren't.
For millions of American workers, this is a huge step forward: either they'll get more pay, or they'll get the same pay plus more time away from work to live their lives. Lousy employers won't be able to hire someone at $24,000 a year, call them a manager, and make them work 60 hours a week, mostly at non-managerial work, without paying them any more.
And this is a reminder of the power of the presidency, even with a Republican Congress that refuses to do anything to help workers, ever.