‘Shit’s Gonna Hit the Fan:’ Talking to a Billionaire About Class War
Gawker: What else is part of the package of addressing inequality, besides raising the minimum wage?
NH: Raising the overtime threshold—something that is about to happen. This is more complex so not as many people understand it, but it’s equally consequential. The overtime threshold is to the middle class as the minimum wage is to low-wage workers. What the overtime threshold is is the salary level below which your employer is required to pay you overtime if you work more than 40 hours a week. When we had a thriving middle class 40 years ago, two thirds of salaried workers were entitled to overtime if they worked more than 40 hours a week. As a consequence, we had relatively low unemployment, and people went home at a reasonable hour and could take care of their families and their kids.
Today, the average full time worker works 47 hours a week. And they work those [extra] seven hours mostly for free, because today, less than 10% of salaried workers are entitled to overtime. If you earn more than $23,600 a year—if your employer pitches you a fake title like “assistant manager,” they don’t have to pay you overtime. And as a consequence, all over the country people are working for $27,000 a year and working 70 hours a week doing basically: one person doing the job of one and a half…
The president has unilateral ability to raise that threshold through a rule through the Labor Department. And within two weeks, the Labor Department will announce what that rule is, what that new threshold is. And I can tell you that the shit is going to hit the fan.