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By Ben Penn
Dec. 22 — The Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division collected approximately $246.8 million in back wages for 240,340 workers in fiscal year 2015, about 30 percent of which went to employees in low-wage industries, according to figures the agency released Dec. 22.
The $246.8 million was a slight increase from the nearly $241 million recovered the prior fiscal year and down from $280.7 million in FY 2013.
WHD Administrator David Weil said he places more stock in other statistics, such as the significant rise in the amount recovered per worker—$1,027 in fiscal 2015, up from $890 in fiscal 2014.
“The fact that we’re recovering more wages per worker says a lot about impact, because those are industries where the average wage is lower,” Weil told Bloomberg BNA in a Dec. 17 interview.
The $74.3 million recovered for 102,000 employees in low-wage industries in FY 2015 is up from $57.5 million for 76,900 workers in FY 2008 under the prior administration, the WHD reported.
Yet the overall amount recouped for lower-earning workers has actually declined the past three years since reaching a peak of $97.9 million in FY 2012, the agency's statistics website shows.
The WHD defines low-wage industries to include agriculture, day care, restaurants, garment manufacturing, guard services, health care, hotels and motels, janitorial services and temporary help.
The figures for fiscal 2015—October 2014 through September 2015—include only violations in concluded cases, not alleged violations under pending litigation.
For more information, see Compensation and Benefits Library’s FLSA Enforcement and Penalties chapter.
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