The Petty Pilfering of Minutes: Wage Theft in Contemporary America

Northwestern University political scientist Daniel Galvin has an eye-opening post in The Washington Post about wage theft, a topic I’ve written about before. Based on extensive research, he’s made the following findings (my summary here is abbreviated; for the fuller findings, read Galvin’s excellent piece):

1. Percentage of low-wage workers who have suffered wage theft: 16%. (Other studies report higher percentages.)
2. Average percentage of a worker’s wages lost to wage theft: 26%.
3. Where wage theft tends to happen: private homes, nail salons, food service industries.
4. Whom it tends to happen to: women, people of color, people under 30, non-citizens, non-union members, people who didn’t finish high school or who live in the South.
5. How it happens: “employers often commit wage theft by mandating off-the-clock work, paying their employees a flat rate irrespective of hours worked, making illegal deductions, withholding tips, misclassifying their employees as exempt, or simply refusing to pay for work performed.”
6. How it can be stopped: treble damages for violators.

Not exactly what Marx had in mind when he cited the petty pilfering of minutes, but getting close.



  1. Magpie September 9, 2015 at 5:20 am | #

    Even though it is in Australia, you might find this interesting;

    7-Eleven: The Price of Convenience
    By Adele Ferguson and Klaus Toft
    September 2, 2015

  2. Cavoyo September 9, 2015 at 6:07 pm | #

    “With private-sector unions continuing their steep decline and little possibility of federal action, public policy at the state and local levels has become the main prize in the battle for workers’ rights.”

    Reminds me of what you were saying in Shitstorming the Bastille.

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