The college graduates of today are afflicted with a common plight: that of the entry-level salary. Think 50 to 60 hour workweeks, a dwindling social life and lingering student debt, midnight office dinners of carryout Chinese and very little pay to show for it.
You finally reach your breaking point when the hours logged are no longer worth your paltry paycheck, sending you head first into your 20-something quarter life crisis. Nearing the edge of your precipice, you do one of three things: 1) Write existential articles on Thought Catalog and/or start a blog you’ll later regret, 2) Get a tattoo or 3) Break up with your boyfriend, quit your job, pack up your life and move across the country. (Disclaimer: the aforementioned statements do not reflect my personal decisions when experiencing said quarter-life crisis.)
Obama Workin’ Overtime
Yesterday, President Obama descended from his White House throne proclaiming, “I see you and your tub of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked, girl.”
In real people terms, the president announced his proposal revising our outdated overtime rule. Currently, you can only receive overtime pay if you make $23,660 a year or less. The revised rule would increase the salary requirement to $50,440 per year. This would effectively give nearly five million Americans a raise, assuming they work over 40 hours a week and don’t get laid off.
This move was designed to address the economy’s stubbornly stagnant wage economy (virtually the only part of our economy that’s failed to recover). It will also bring our overtime threshold somewhat in line with the 1975 ruling, which was linked to the 40th percentile of income.
To the shock of no one, not everyone in Washington is shouting, “Bring in the dancing lobsters!” Randy Johnson, senior vice president of Labor, Immigration and Employee Benefits regarded the ruling as just “another example of the administration being completely divorced from reality and adding more burdens to employers and expecting them to just absorb the impact.”
Johnson isn’t the only one shaking his head. Many predict that the rule, if honored, would simply lead to an increase in part-time workers rather than wages as employers struggle to accommodate time-and-a-half pay that they hadn’t originally budgeted for.
This is bad news for college grads struggling to find a full-time job, as well as for notoriously innovative startup companies that have grown to command our labor market. As Mark Zuckerberg and Brian Chesky can attest to, building a successful company demands working far past five p.m. Requiring overtime pay could dampen small businesses’ chances at success before they even leave the starting gate.
The bottom line is, Obama’s proposed rule fails to address the heart of the issue: businesses are still struggling. By inserting yet another financial hoop for them to jump through, we’d further stifle the heart of innovation and economic prosperity rather than nurture it.
Our economy is much more interconnected than what meets the eye, bound up in cause and effect. Something as simple as compensating a larger percentage of workers for overtime would have a profound, long-lasting effect on the economy as a whole. This misunderstanding often leads to far too simplistic solutions for increasingly complicated problems.
What do you think of Obama’s proposed overtime rule? Share your thoughts below or join the discussion on Facebook.