All Articles Tagged "wages"

With Obama’s New Overtime Rules, Execs Who Earn $23,660 Annually Will Get A Boost

April 23rd, 2015 - By Ann Brown
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President Obama returning to the White House this weekend. Aude Guerrucci- Pool/Getty Images

President Obama returning to the White House. Aude Guerrucci- Pool/Getty Images

President Obama has been talking about raising wages nationwide. Now it seems he just might do it–in a roundabout way.

Obama’s administration will propose new rules for overtime compensation, which could force more businesses to pay time-and-a-half after 40 hours of work. This move should be welcome news for a lot of lower-level executives. “Many employees now earning as little as $23,660 a year — below the federal poverty line for a family of four — aren’t entitled to overtime pay because they are considered managers,” reports Yahoo.

Obama has been calling for a raise of the minimum wage, but Republicans in Congress have been blocking such proposals. But Obama can actually change the overtime rules through executive authority. Some people want Obama to push the threshold higher before someone could be called an executive exempt from overtime. Officials at the Department of Labor want it lifted to $51,000.  And a group of 26 Democratic Senators want it to be $56,680.

“This is absolutely one of the best practical ways to give people the on-ramp to the middle class,” said lawmaker Sherrod Brown of Ohio. “When you strip people of their overtime pay, which is what’s happened over the years, they really don’t have a chance to get ahead: They’re working harder and harder and not seeing real pay increases.”

Others argue that jobs will be lost as fast-food restaurants, retailers, and other companies may have to cut employment to pay for increased overtime coverage.

Fact is, the middle class is still suffering. Middle class incomes still haven’t bounced back to pre-recession levels. According to inflation-adjusted estimates from Sentier Research, the median U.S. household income of $54,500 in February remained $1,500 short of the December 2007 level, when the recession started.

There could be other changes as well. “Under the Bush administration’s 2004 rules, exempt executives must supervise at least two employees and management must be their primary duty, though there is no requirement covering the amount of time they spend on management tasks,” reports Yahoo. Obama may change this definition of executives.

US Economy Added 321,000 Jobs In November, The Most In 3 Years, But Wages Are A Concern

December 5th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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The country added 321,000 jobs during the month of November, the most in three years, according to the Labor Department. But it’s wages, not just jobs, that are still a concern for the American economy. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.8 percent.

Despite this good news, the Black unemployment rate crept up from 10.9 percent to 11.1 percent. For Black men, the rate is 11.2 percent. For Black women, it’s 9.6 percent. The number of long-term unemployed (27 weeks or more) is 2.8 million, much the same as previous months. And the number of people working part-time when they would rather have a full-time job is also largely unchanged at 6.9 million.

The areas gaining the most jobs were temp help (23,000), retail (50,000) and manufacturing (28,000). The average workweek rose by .1 hour to 34.6 hours and the average wage went up nine cents to $24.66.

It’s those wage numbers that should be raising eyebrows. Simply put, people are working, but they’re not earning enough money to keep up with the cost of living.

“Economists had expected wage gains to accelerate the second half of the year,” reports USA Today, though experts are happy with the increase in hiring.

“Now that the labor market is tightening, however, employees may even feel confident enough to ask for a raise beyond the piddling 1% or 2% or so that many companies have been offering. So far this year, average hourly earnings have risen 2.1%,” writes a separate USAT story. When people have more money, the entire economy benefits. People can afford to buy more even if companies see a temporary dent in their bottom line to absorb the higher labor costs. Prices go up as a result. To offset what’s called a “wage-price spiral,” the Federal Reserve will likely raise interest rates a bit. Those rates had been kept low as we worked our way out of the recession. Higher interest may sound all bad, but if you have any sort of savings account, that’s actually a good thing.

Still, even with all of that, there’s the issue of the minimum wage. Many families in this country struggle to make it on retail jobs, in fast-food work and in other low-paying positions. Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the first fast-food worker protest. The Fight for 15 campaign, which seeks $15 per hour, led protests in 150 cities this time around. The New York Times focuses on one of the campaign’s biggest supporters, Terrance Wise, who works two jobs at two fast-food restaurants and still, he says, his children live in poverty. Neither job pays more than $10 per hour. Wise, 35 years old, was a high school athlete who seemed well on his way before he had to drop out of high school to support his family after his two brothers went to prison.

That story also includes a wrenching video about a family that juggles a paper thin budget to keep their household going and medications for their children.

Wages for everyone, not just the one percent, need to increase if we’re really going to see the country bounce back and move forward. In the meantime, we mustn’t forget the people at the bottom of the wage scale, who are contributing members of society with families to support as well.

So often, even on this site in the comments section, there are those who say “Fast food jobs aren’t for adults. They’re stepping stones. Get more skills. Get a better job.” That’s all fine and well, but not everyone is in a position to do that. We have a responsibility as a society to provide the basics to those in tough circumstances so they can improve their lives. No one wants to work two jobs and still struggle to survive. We have to be better and do better. That means corporations and the highest earners have to contribute more.

Moreover, as we’ve discussed, when workers make more money, the economy as a whole benefits. So while we’re seeing some very bright lights in these monthly jobs numbers, we have to make sure the jobs people are getting will offer wages that sustain them and their families.

Employers Set Aside Record-High Budget For Pay Raises

August 30th, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Great news! If you’ve caught your employer’s eye with your stellar performance, you can expect a big “Thank You” from your boss in a form of a raise. Cha-ching!

According to CNN Money, a survey by Aon Hewitt found that companies are setting aside a record-high level of payroll, nearly 13 percent, for performance-based bonuses. But why are bosses being a bit more generous? Is it new found compassion? Sympathy? Care? Nope.

It’s simply because your resignation would cost them more money. And nobody likes that.

“[Employers] can spend 150 percent of the salary just the replace the person [that quit],” Inc. wrote. “So, over all, these attempts to save a few bucks [by refusing raises] may backfire in a big, expensive way.”

Employers are now chewing over the long-term benefits of performance-based bonuses — in the long-run, it’s worth the expense as it increases the probability of high retention rates. A full 91 percent of employees surveyed, according to Aon Hewitt, said they had a performance-based incentive program to boost achievement. Compare this to the 78 percent figure back in 2005.

“Aon Hewitt’s survey found that companies are giving average performers a 2.7% bump in base pay this year, while top performers will see a 4.4% increase. Overall, companies said they’re giving workers an average raise of 2.9% in 2014 and plan to give 3% in 2015,” CNN Money added.

The survey points out that your raise will more likely be higher if you live in Denver, Houston, and Los Angeles (a raise of 3.2 percent). Meanwhile, employees in New York, Minneapolis, and Milwaukee will see lower pay hikes at 2.8 percent.

Besides location, your field determines how high your raise will be, as well. Workers in oil and gas industries will see some a 3.8 percent pay bump, followed by education at 2.7 percent. Government workers and employees at paper companies  will see the lowest bonuses at 2.6 percent.

Aon Hewitt surveyed 1,064 companies in the U.S.

Empty Sandwich? Subway Accused Of The Most Wage Violations

May 5th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Northfoto /

Northfoto /

Low-wage workers across the country have been protesting for higher salaries. And many low-wage earners work at fast food franchises. One of the worst to work at when it comes to salaries turns out to be Subway. CNNMoney analysis of Department of Labor data finds that Subway may be underpaying its employees the most.

The analysis found that Subway franchisees violated wage and hour rules in more than 1,100 investigations from 2000 to 2013. Among the violations were deducting money for 30-minute lunch breaks that employees did not take and making workers pay for uniforms.

“Each investigation can lead to multiple violations and fines. Combined, these cases found about 17,000 Fair Labor Standards Act violations and resulted in franchisees having to reimburse Subway workers more than $3.8 million over the years,” CNNMoney’s Annalyn Kurtz writes.

Subway isn’t alone it its violations. Next on the list of most-frequent violators of wage and hour laws were McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. Subway has the most locations in the U.S.–26,000. McDonald’s has 14,276; Dunkin’ Donuts, 7,700.

One of the McDonald’s franchise owners had to pay about $500,000 to current and former employees as a result of a lawsuit over wage violations.

“When McDonald’s learns of pay concerns in restaurants which we own and operate, we review the concerns and take appropriate action to resolve them,” the company said. “We trust that our independent owner-operators do the same. McDonald’s and our owner-operators employ separately but in total over 750,000 workers in the United States, and we caution against drawing broad conclusions based on the actions of a few,” McDonald’s told CNNMoney.

Dunkin’ Donuts told CNNMoney it takes “these matters seriously and [is] committed to the well-being and fair treatment of all crew members.” Subway meanwhile declined to comment.

Pass Around The Collection Plate! How Well Should Pastors Be Paid?

April 30th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Are you among those who think pastors have a lot of money these days? Take Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta. He’s getting ready to move from his lavish $2.2-million mansion in early May. This move comes after the 66-year-old Catholic pastor was criticized for having such a posh lifestyle, one that is not in line with the example set by the extremely frugal Pope Francis.

He apologized for an error in judgment and promised to move from the Tudor-style Buckhead estate, which was built with money left by a wealthy parishioner who died in 2011.

Gregory’s case however only highlights a growing trend of black pastors, regardless of denomination, living lavish lifestyles.

According to Morris Tipton of the National Baptist Convention, churches need to put in a system of checks and balances.

“Most churches set their own guidelines and standards on how they are going to deal with compensating their pastor,” he told The Grio. “The problem comes in when a pastor seeks to live a lavish lifestyle off the congregation.”

“Tithes and offerings should be a storehouse for those that have fallen through the cracks,” added Rev. Samuel Mosteller, president of the SCLC Georgia Chapter. “The problem is in some churches pastors have stopped being pastors and turned themselves into CEOs.”

There is a difference says Tipton between successful preachers and those who abuse money and power. And, some preachers are well underpaid and over the years more have become vocal about their low salaries.

“Not first and foremost, but just making sure that they and their families needs are met also,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s anything wrong with that.”

Then there are others who shun being paid huge salaries. Take Rev. Kenneth Adkins who oversees a 400-member church but has never collected a salary. He says the monies collected at Greater Dimensions Christian Fellowship in Brunswick, Georgia, should be used to better the community.

“I believe pastors should get paid, but I choose not to get a salary because it’s important for me to use much of the resources to help other people,” said Adkins, who founded his church in 2010. He adds that he makes his money through his business.

So while there are some pastors living high on the altar, there are others who are following the cause of the black church to aid its congregations–and not the other way around.

McDonald’s Being Sued Over Employee Pay, New Protests Focus On “Wage Theft”

March 18th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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A man identified as only "Ben" dressed as Ronald McDonald during protests today. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

A man identified as only “Ben” dressed as Ronald McDonald during protests today. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Fed up with being paid low wages by one of world’s largest corporations, several employees are taking McDonald’s to court. A number of lawsuits have filed against the fast food chain recently accusing the company of a variety of practices to get around paying workers what they’re due.

Suits have been filed in California, Michigan, and New York against McDonald’s and its franchisees. The six lawsuits and one amended lawsuit involve both franchise-owned and company owned sites. The lawsuits charge  a number of violations such as the use of software that figures out the ratio of labor costs as a percentage of revenue. “When that ratio rises above a target, attorneys say workers are forced to wait around before they can clock in,” reports The Grio.  Lawyers also say workers in Michigan must buy their own uniforms, which violates labor rules.

President Barack Obama, Democratic lawmakers and labor organizers want to increase the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour (or about $15,000 annually for full-time work) to $10.10. Obama has already told the Labor Department to amend rules that will make overtime pay accessible to a number of groups who couldn’t get it before.

In a statement, McDonald’s said it is looking into the claims and will take any necessary actions.

“McDonald’s and our independent owner-operators share a concern and commitment to the well-being and fair treatment of all people who work in McDonald’s restaurants,” the company said.

Most of America’s more than 14,000 McDonald’s locations are owned by franchisees.

Meanwhile, the people who aren’t suing McDonald’s were protesting against it. Rallies in New York (where the photo above was taken), Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston sought not only the $15-per-hour wage increase that workers have been rallying for for some months now, but also called out the chain for what they call “wage theft,” highlighting some of the practices alleged in the aforementioned lawsuits.

African-American Women In America Make Advancements In Education & Entrepreneurship, Struggle In Other Areas

December 3rd, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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The latest study by the Center for American Progress (CAP) takes a comprehensive look at the state of black women in America, analyzing African-American women and health, education, entrepreneurship, economic security, and political leadership. We are 13 percent of the female population in the United States, but still have major disparities in various aspects of our lives. Strides are being made, such as the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the spread of paid sick leave. Under the ACA, about 5.1 million African-American women with private health insurance are currently receiving expanded preventive service coverage and an estimated three million African-American women will now have access to affordable or subsidized health insurance. Here’s a snapshot of what CAP found:


One in four African-American women are uninsured.

  • More than any other group, African-American women suffer from hypertension: 46 percent of black women 20 years of age and older have hypertension; only 31 percent of white women and 29 percent of Hispanic women of the same age do.
  • White women may be more likely to have breast cancer, but African-American women are more likely to die from it. An average of five black women per day  (or 1,722 annually) succumb to breast cancer.
  • An incredible 65 percent of new AIDS diagnoses among women are African American.

Educational attainment

Although more African-American women pursue higher education, the numbers are still at a significantly lower level than that of white women.

  • In 2004,  the college graduation rate of African-American women was 24.1 percent and has not increased at the same rate as those of white women, Latinas, or Asian American women. Thirty percent of white women have a college degree.
  • Only two percent of African-American women are in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM;  women as a whole make up 24 percent of the STEM workforce.
  • “According to Census data about work-life earnings, white women make more than African American women among full-time, year-round workers, regardless of what degrees they have obtained,” reports the organization.


Businesses owned by African-American women continue to grow despite significant financial and social obstacles.

  • “African American-owned businesses are the fastest-growing segment of the women-owned business market and are starting up at a rate six times higher than the national average,” reports CAP.
  • The number of companies started by black women increased nearly 258 percent from 1997 to 2013.
  • In 2013 the number of black women-owned businesses was estimated at 1.1 million. This comprised an incredible 42 percent of businesses owned by women of color and 49 percent of all African American-owned businesses.
  • Businesses owned by black women employed 272,000 workers and generated $44.9 billion in revenue in 2013.
  • But of the top 10 fastest-growing private companies owned by black entrepreneurs from 2009 to 2012, just 27 percent were owned by black women.

Economic security

This is a major issue for African-American women as they continue to have higher rates of unemployment than white women and continue to have lower amounts of weekly usual earnings and median wealth in comparison to their male counterparts and white women.

  • According to the most current available data, African-American women only made 64 cents to the dollar compared to white, non-Hispanic men in 2010. White women, however, made 78.1 cents to the same dollar.
  • African-American women only earned $610 per week, whereas black men earned $666. White women’s median usual weekly earnings were $718 in the second quarter of 2013.
  • The rate of unemployment for African-American women was 181 percent more than that of white women in the second quarter of 2013. Black women had an unemployment rate of 10.5 percent versus to 5.8 percent for white women.

Political leadership

While black women have long been community leaders, they are underrepresented in all levels of government.

  • Only 14 of the 98 women in Congress are African American.
  • Of the 29 women of color now serving in the House of Representatives, 16 are black.
  • There is only one African-American female currently serving as mayor—Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore–in the nation’s top 100 cities.

Don’t Shortchange Me! How To Tell If You’re Underpaid

November 12th, 2013 - By Tanvier Peart
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Have you ever had a conversation with a friend or co-worker about money-related topics that revealed you are on the lower end of the salary spectrum? Even if it was unintentional there’s nothing like feeling you aren’t getting paid the proper amount, especially if you know you put in the hard work and effort. So depressing! Though it’s never good form or etiquette to flat out ask people such personal questions, there are some ways to poke around to see if you are making what you deserve. Here are some tips on how to tell if you’re underpaid.

Help Wanted? A Look At Why The Jobs Situation For The Black Community Has Declined

September 26th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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America is in a holding pattern when it comes to poverty and median income levels. There was no significant decrease in poverty nor did incomes get a big boost, according to new data.

And as a new U.S. Census Bureau report revealed, while real median household income and the poverty rate were not statistically different from the previous year, there are 46.5 million (or 15 percent) of people living at or below the poverty line. “This marked the second consecutive year that neither the official poverty rate nor the number of people in poverty were statistically different from the previous year’s estimates,” according to a Bureau press release.

The report, “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2012,”  found that the real median incomes in 2012 for family households ($64,053) and non-family households ($30,880) were not very different from the levels in 2011. And changes in real median household income were not statistically significant for race and Hispanic-origin groups between 2011 and 2012.

If the numbers on poverty and income levels haven’t changed drastically, the changes in the situation for blacks seem strange.

“Black unemployment rose to 13 percent in August from 12.6 percent in July. Unemployment among black teens declined to 38.2 percent, down from 41.6 percent.  This was the lowest level since March, however, black teen unemployment remains the highest of any group,” reports TheGrio.

“We’ve lost 700,000 public sector jobs since [President] Obama took office. This is a completely preventable and reversible catastrophe,” Heather McGhee, vice president for policy and outreach at Demos told TheGrio. This is due, she said, to the steep cuts and the gridlock in Washington. And she says she does not expect more encouraging jobs data until there is a commitment to create more public sector jobs, where blacks and Latinos are over-represented.

Of the 169,000 jobs that were created, the retail, health care and leisure and hospitality sectors saw the biggest increases. Many retail jobs, however, are low wage.

Mobility can play an important role in employment as well. African Americans tend to reside in more segregated communities that are located further away from the areas experiencing the highest jobs growth. Therefore, improving transportation and access to transportation is important, explained Margaret Simms, institute fellow and director of the Low Income Working Families Project at the Urban Institute. She said manufacturing jobs were a good source of high-wage jobs for workers without more than a high school education.  But, these jobs are not growing in many parts of the country.

(Actually, there’s an interesting story in the Wall Street Journal this morning about the opportunities available in toilet manufacturing. The strength and skill needed for the job makes it a manufacturing area that the US can excel in.)

Education is also key.  “We must ensure the next generation has the educational foundation to acquire job related skills, whether it is post-secondary or vocational training,” said Simms. In some not-so-good news, a report from the College Board shows that the SAT scores for the Class of 2013 indicates the next group of high school graduates aren’t prepared for college. The benchmark score is 1550 (out of 2400) and the average score this year was 1498, the same as last year. That benchmark indicates a 65 percent chance that students will achieve a B- grade point average their first year.

Super Sizing Their Pay: Fast Food Burger Joint Raises Starting Salary To $15 Per Hour

September 16th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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 Spencer Platt Getty Images News

Spencer Platt
Getty Images News

Fast food workers have been taking to the streets as of late demanding higher wages, but workers at one burger restaurant aren’t as worried about making ends meet on minimum wage.

Detroit-area fast food eatery Moo Cluck Moo, which already gained attention for paying its workers $12 per hour, will raise its starting wage to $15 per hour beginning October 1, The Daily Beast reports. Other fast-food workers are demanding chains like McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC increase their salaries to $15 per hour. Some workers at these chains are just making slightly more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Moo Cluck Moo, a relatively new business, has done what many say is foolish: increased starting salary wages 25 percent.

But Brian Parker, one of the owners of Moo Cluck Moo, told The Daily Beast he believes his employees deserve it. “It’s not an easy job to do,” said Parker. “We’ve got a line out the door.” Parker also said that when they paid $12, the employees performed better. So he expects even more improvement.

“We’ve had very low turnover,” said Parker. “Of the people that are working for us, we don’t have anybody disgruntled. With better productivity, higher quality of customer service, and the publicity, the $15 an hour the owners feel was a good investment move.

Moo Cluck Moo isn’t the only fast food eatery beefing up salaries. According to The Huffington Post, John Pepper, the CEO of burrito chain Boloco, pays his workers a starting wage of $9 per hour.