Researchers estimate that over the course of a year, the average loss per worker is $2,634 out of total earnings of $17,616. In New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, this extrapolates to approximately $3 billion in illegally withheld wages and when generalized to the entire U.S. low-wage workforce of about 30 million, amounts to $50 billion a year in illegally withheld wages.
By comparison, in 2012 there were 292,074 robberies of all kinds. This includes bank robberies, residential robberies, convenience store robberies, gas station robberies and street robberies. The total value of the property taken as a result of these crimes amounts to a mere $340,850,358. In the same year, the total amount recovered from wage theft by public agencies and private attorneys amounted to nearly $1 billion, nearly three times as much as the total property lost from better known crimes such as robberies. The amount recovered from wage thefts is only 2% of the total estimated amount that is illegally withheld from employees nationwide.
Wage theft is the illegal withholding of wages or the denial of benefits that are rightfully owed to an employee. Wage theft can be conducted through various means such as: failure to pay overtime, minimum wage violations, employee misclassifications, illegal deductions in pay, working off the clock, or not being paid at all. Employees rights to be properly paid for their labor are protected by the federal Fair labor Standards Act (FLSA) and State law.
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Statistical credit to the Economic Policy Institute