The Trump administration is about to pretend it’s doing something great for workers, but surprise—it’s not so great. Heidi Shierholz explains the truth behind reports that the administration will roll out its new overtime eligibility rule in time for Labor Day, looking for positive headlines about all the workers who’ll suddenly be eligible for time-and-a-half if they work more than 40 hours a week.
The Obama administration tried to raise the threshold to which salaried workers are eligible for overtime from the current level of $23,660 up to $47,476, meaning that a lot of workers would suddenly get either more time or more pay. That got blocked by a conservative judge, and now the Trump administration plans to propose an increase to $35,308—which sounds good, if you don’t realize that $47,476 had been on the table, so everyone earning between those two numbers will now be left out. It’s an advance over the status quo, sure, but a big step back from what the status quo would have been if right-wing groups hadn’t sued to block the Obama policy and a right-wing judge hadn’t taken their side.
“The Trump administration’s weaker rule will leave behind an estimated 8.2 million workers who would have gotten new or strengthened overtime protections under the 2016 rule,” Shierholz writes. “This includes 4.2 million women, 3.0 million people of color, 4.7 million workers without a college degree, and 2.7 million parents of children under the age of 18.” Overall, $1.2 billion a year less will go to workers under the expected Trump rule than under the thwarted Obama rule.
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