Recovering Stolen Wages
Earlier this year, a report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a Public Welfare Foundation grantee, showed that nearly $8 billion was stolen from workers in the 10 largest states through wage theft—mostly through the failure of many employers to pay the minimum wage. The projected overall loss in wages throughout the country was $15 billion.
Now, there is a bit of good news. Another report issued by EPI last week, showed that about $2 billion in stolen wages was recovered for workers in 2015 and 2016—more than $513 million by the U.S. Department of Labor, $317.5 million through state departments of labor and attorneys general in 39 states, and at least $1.2 billion through private civil litigation class action settlements.
As EPI notes, this represents some progress. But when losses from all forms of wage theft are estimated to be as high as $50 billion, it’s “a drop in the bucket.”
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