Average theft amounts to 3 months of unpaid earnings for a minimum wage worker
HOUSTON, March 1, 2019—Workers in the Houston Metro Area have reported $1,240,029 in unpaid wages in the last twelve months, according to a new report from Faith and Justice Worker Center. Overall reported stolen wages were more than $103,000 per month.
Most people impacted work in low-paying industries, and the average claim amount is almost $3,600. For workers earning a minimum wage, this figure represents 494 hours of stolen work, the equivalent of 3 months without pay, or 25% of their annual income.
“Labor abuses are not victimless crimes. Wage theft means families getting evicted, parents being unable to afford their kids’ medication or their own,” said Marianela Acuña Arreaza, executive director with FJWC. “Worker rights are community issues because they impact families, their neighborhoods and the economic ecosystem. With this data collection we are getting a better understanding of the extent of it all.”
Last year, Faith and Justice Worker Center developed a labor abuse database to systematically collect data about how Houston’s working people are impacted by labor rights violations, including wage theft.
FJWC’s findings for 2018 are comparable to a national study on wage theft conducted by the Economic Policy Institute in 2017, which found that an average worker loses $3,300 per year. In Texas, the average victim loses 30% of their annual earnings.
Over the coming weeks, FJWC will be releasing information drawn from the data it has collected. A full report will be published Wednesday, May 1st, 2019.
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