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Infographic: Can Stricter State Penalties Lower Theft of Wages?

IPR political scientist Daniel Galvin conducts state-by-state analysis of wage theft regulations


wage theft

Click on the image above to see a larger version of the infographic.

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Daniel Galvin

While the debate over raising the minimum wage continues across the United States, there has been little discussion about wage theft—when employers pay their employees below the minimum wage. In a recent IPR working paper, IPR political scientist Daniel Galvin conducts a state-by-state analysis of policies surrounding wage theft, finding that stricter policies could play a role in enforcing state and federal minimum wages.

The infographic above shows the variety of policies implemented across the country to combat wage theft. States with stricter policies tend to have regulatory agencies with strong enforcement powers and high penalties for employers who underpay, as well as protections that enable workers to more easily take employers to court. At the other end of the spectrum are states with weak or no policies, such as Mississippi, which has no wage and hour laws, and Alabama, which only regulates child labor. In the middle are states like New Jersey, which do have laws in place for protecting workers against wage theft, but relatively weak penalties.

Daniel Galvin is associate professor of political science and an IPR fellow. The working paper, “Deterring 'Wage Theft': Alt-Labor, State Politics, and the Policy Determinants of Minimum Wage Compliance” (WP-15-08) is available here.