In What Industries Is Wage Theft Prevalent?

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In What Industries Is Wage Theft Prevalent?

InsideCapitolDome

In What Industries Is Wage Theft Prevalent?

Wage claims filed with state authorities provide a glimpse of the serious problem of wage theft in Oregon.

Wage theft occurs when employers pay workers less than the minimum wage, don’t pay time-and-a-half for overtime hours, cheat on the number of hours worked, steal tips or don’t pay workers at all. Some workers seek redress with state authorities. Many don’t, possibly because they are unaware that help is available or fear reprisal from their employer.

Nevertheless, wage claims filed with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) constitute an important source of data regarding wage theft in Oregon. This fact sheet summarizes the findings of OCPP’s analysis of wage claims filed with BOLI during the one-year period starting in July 2010 and ending in June 2011.

Total number of claims filed: 1,159.

Total dollar amount of claims: $3,351,100.

Industry with highest share of claims relative to the size of its
workforce:
 construction.[1]

  • Construction made up 4 percent of Oregon’s workforce and had 18 percent of total claims (203 claims).
  • Total dollar amount of claims: $549,211.
  • Many claims were lodged against specialty trades firms, such as drywall companies, which frequently subcontract with a general contractor.

Industry with second highest share of claims relative to the size of its
workforce:
 information.[2]

  • The information sector — which includes telecommunication, cable and cellular services; software design and web hosting — made up 2 percent of Oregon’s workforce and had 5 percent of total claims (59 claims).
  • Total dollar amount of claims: $136,427.

Industry with highest number of total claims: accommodation and food services.

  • Number of claims against accommodation and food services, which includes hotels, restaurants and bars: 234.
  • Total dollar amount of claims: $520,612.
  • Food services gave rise to most (90 percent) of the claims in this industry.
  • Accommodation and food services made up 9 percent of Oregon’s workforce and had 21 percent of total claims.[3]

[1] All industry calculations in this fact sheet are based on total claims, excluding those in the agriculture industry, filed with BOLI and non-farm employment data from the Oregon Employment Department (OED). OCPP adjusted industry categories defined by BOLI to allow comparison with OED data. Claims in the construction industry comprise 0.3 percent of the industry’s workforce.

[2] Claims in the information industry comprise 0.18 percent of the industry’s workforce.

[3] Claims in the accommodation and food services industry comprise 0.17 percent of the industry’s work

OCPP

OCPP

Written by staff at the Oregon Center for Public Policy.

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