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Michigan Governor Wants More Workers to Qualify for Overtime

The percentage of Michigan workers entitled to overtime pay has declined for decades. (AdobeStock)
The percentage of Michigan workers entitled to overtime pay has declined for decades. (AdobeStock)
October 25, 2019

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan is joining the list of states making moves to expand overtime pay.

Yesterday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a proposal to increase the threshold for overtime pay to salaried workers who earn less than roughly $51,000. The current overtime pay threshold is about $23,000.

Sam Inglot, deputy director at Progress Michigan, explains that nearly 200,000 more Michiganders would qualify for overtime pay.

"According to the Whitmer administration, the number of people that are eligible for overtime pay has actually decreased quite a bit over the last two decades,” says Inglot. “So she's basically trying to right the ship in that way."

President Donald Trump recently released a final rule to extend the overtime pay threshold to about $35,000. Whitmer's plan is in line with an Obama Administration level that was blocked by the courts.

California, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington also are working on similar increases.

Opponents say the increase could hurt workers and the economy. Speaking to the Detroit Press, The Michigan Chamber of Commerce called Whitmer's plan "reckless" because it raises the salary threshold "too high, too fast."

However Sam Berger, vice president for Democracy and Government Reform at the Center for American Progress, counters that Trump's new threshold is out-of-touch with the realities of the working class.

"The idea that someone that's making more than $35,000 is an executive that basically doesn't need to get overtime pay is inconsistent with anyone's understanding of what the economy looks like today,” says Berger. “And so it's great to see states standing up for the middle class and saying people deserve to be paid for the hours that they work."

Berger adds that Trump's overtime rule would cost Michigan workers alone an estimated $49 million compared with former President Barack Obama's now-abandoned overtime rule.

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI