Laura Clawson of the Daily Kos reports on a big change in labor law that might impact millions of Americans. The Department of Labor is considering an increase to the threshold for overtime pay from $23,360 to $52,000, which means any worker, including salaried employees, making less than that amount would be legally entitled to overtime pay. Clawson notes that this is a change President Obama could make without legislative approval. She also says that the move would probably be opposed in the legislature and courts. Even so, changing the threshold would be a good way to help low wage workers, and it would be a fit punishment for employers who pay employees salary so they do not have to pay overtime. I hope President Obama and the DOL put working people first – raise the threshold.
According to the Department of Labor, there are more than 5 million open jobs in the U.S., the highest number since such statistics were first kept in 2000. Huffington Post reports that this news is good for the labor market and the overall economy. This good news does not guarantee that you can find a good job. Finding a job and managing a career is always an individual enterprise. It’s a lot easier when companies are hiring.
The news that the U.S. economy added 280,000 jobs sounds great. Bloomberg offer charts that show a more mixed situation. Yes, job growth is up. However, the unemployment rate went up because more people have entered the job market. Similarly, average hourly earnings is up, but that measure has moved like a yo-yo over the past year. The best news is that long-term unemployment is moving steadily down. If you’re thinking about looking for a new job or asking your boss for a raise, this could be a good time to act. Even if the news is mixed, the job market is much better than it was five years ago.
I often caution against making too much of broad news about the job market. At the same time, some good news needs to be told. The latest Department of Labor job reports shows growth in higher paying jobs in professional services. It also features a spike in construction jobs. This is the kind of news that might be a sign of a growing economy, which would mean strong, lasting job growth with better wages. My fingers are crossed.
In past years, I have cautioned readers to beware of statistics about the unemployment rate. The news media loves to tell negative, scary stores. Fear sells. At the same time, a tick up in the unemployment rate means nothing to individual job seekers. Think about it this way: You are not a statistic.
However, sometimes it is important to recognize a statistical trend, especially if it can help you advance your career and make more money. Job growth has been strong over the last three months, and part of that occurred during one of the worst winters in recent memory. If the rate of new hires considers to exceed 200,000 over the next few months and the unemployment rate dips below 6%, things could improve for working people.
Over the past few years, managers and employers have been able to take a “if you don’t like it, leave” attitude. They are cocky because they think almost any employee is easily replaceable. A tighter job market will make them less confident. Watch what’s going on in your company and industry. If employees start leaving for better jobs, it might be time for you to start looking for work or ask for a raise. Employers are also subject to fear. If they see the unemployment rate going down, they will start to appreciate workers more. Use that change in the economy to advance your career and, if necessary, look for a new place to work.
Is it fair that workers are producing more wealth for their employer and not seeing a share of that wealth? Writing in Daily Kos, Meteor Blades reports on some alarming data from the Department of Labor. Productivity is increasing at an annual rate of 3% while labor costs are down and wages are stagnant. Blades does a great job of historical analysis, showing that wages began to contract long before the “Great Recession” of 2008.
This sad story is another reason why workers need to be in a constant job search. If your current employer is asking for more and not rewarding you, it’s time to test the market. For many workers, that will be the only way to get a significant raise.