August 1, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Dayton, OH – About 93,000 workers in Ohio made less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They represented about 2.9% of workers in the state, whose minimum is $8.10.
Much of that is the result of “major incidents of wage theft,” especially in the food and restaurant industry, says Michael Shields, a labor researcher at Policy Matters Ohio. He said the organization sees “pervasive cases” of restaurants not paying tipped workers the $8.10 minimum, as is required when their tips aren’t enough to cover the difference between that and their $4.05 tipped-minimum wage. Another loophole was that until the federal government raised the threshold in May, workers who were classified as managers didn’t have to be paid overtime if they made more than $23,660 a year. “I’m sure I was making less than the minimum wage on an hourly basis,” said former cafeteria manager Mia Whorton, whose income was low enough to qualify for Medicaid despite working 60 to 70 hours a week. The Department of Labor has only six wage-and-hour investigators in Ohio, said Shields. Read more