Friday, July 17, 2015

Jeb Bush doesn't back more overtime pay for the longer hours people 'need to' work

Jeb Bush famously said that "people need to work longer hours and through their productivity gain more income for their families," but he doesn't support expanding overtime protections for people working long hours. In other words, working longer hours shouldn't necessarily gain you more income for your family.

President Obama's administration is preparing to make millions more people eligible for overtime pay by raising the salary threshold from $23,660 to $50,440 as the amount under which people get overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours a week. That means that people now earning between $23,660 and $50,440 who work more than 40 hours a week would either get more pay or more time away from work. But according to Bush, it's the "wrong approach," because:

The net effect of the overtime rule will be, if history’s any guide, there will be less overtime pay, there will be less wages earned. This will be another example of how people then have to figure out a new way to innovate to lessen the number of people working rather than increase it.
Don't you just love that "if history's any guide"? Jeb! throws it in there to sound wonky, but the reality is that the overtime threshold is down 57.5 percent from its peak in 1970. If you actually use history as a guide, you know that from the 1950s through the 1970s, the salary level under which workers were guaranteed overtime pay for overtime hours worked was substantially higher than it is now, and Obama is acting to bring it back in line with historical values. Additionally:
Some worry that raising the overtime salary threshold would dampen hiring by creating higher labor costs, but there are good reasons not to expect this outcome. Research suggests that employers have a rough idea of how much overtime they will need from a given hire and will, over time, at least partly adjust the base wage down accordingly. But more important, if employers want to avoid paying overtime, they have an easy way to do so: Hire new workers to do the extra work at the standard wage or increase the hours of those who are involuntarily working part-time. To the extent that the policy leads employers to curb overtime, this could create work hours for the underemployed workers who need them.
And since Jeb! claims that he was talking about underemployed workers when he said "people need to work longer hours," there's another reason he should be all for Obama's plan. It's almost like he's not being entirely honest with us about his concern for workers.

Jul 15, 2015 11:20am PDT by Laura Clawson

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