Low wage workers in the United States may be losing out on billions of dollars annually, according to a new report on wage theft by the Economic Policy Institute, a non-partisan Washington-based think thank that studies economic and labor issues.
The report takes a look at minimum wage violations in the nation’s ten most populous states – Texas among them – to quantify how much workers are losing. And the results are striking. In the states surveyed, 2.4 million workers lost out on about $8 billion each year.
“Wage theft can occur in a lot of different forms,” says David Cooper, senior economic analyst at the Economic Policy Institute and co-author of the study. “It could be an employer completely denying pay from someone, it could also be something as simple as asking them to work additional hours that they’re not paying them for … or even things like denying them meal breaks or not giving them a pay stub.”
Texas had mixed results in the survey. According to Cooper, the Lone Star State had a lower prevalence of wage theft, compared to other states the study looked at.
“The area where Texas didn’t do so well was we found that in Texas, the amount of wages being stolen from those workers was larger than any other states,” he says. “They were losing $85 a week, potentially, to wage theft.”
Cooper says that people who think they’ve been victims of wage theft should make sure they have documentation, like pay stubs, and contact the Texas Workforce Commission.