Complaint Backlog at DOL Wage and Hour Division is Worse Under Obama than Under Bush — And Getting Worse
A year ago, I checked into complaints to the staff of the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor. It’s time to look again.
Why focus on the staff of the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor? It all sounds picky, but if you think about it the work of this one office matters a whole lot. This division is tasked with investigating worker complaints to make sure that workers aren’t being abused by employers who exploit labor laws — by withholding pay, by refusing to grant overtime, by employing child labor, and otherwise exploiting people who are desperate for work. The work of the division is work to protect the powerless against the powerful in America — and that’s what makes it important.
You might think that under the leadership of a Democratic president like Barack Obama, the backlog at the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor (measured as the average number of days taken to resolve a complaint) would be better than under the leadership of a Republican president like George W. Bush.
But availble statistics show something else entirely:
The backlog is worse under Barack Obama than under George W. Bush, and after a period of improvement from a horrible standard, it’s trending toward the worse again.
Why does the backlog exist? Adjusting for the cost of expenses by indexing for inflation, the Wage and Hour Division of the DOL has a lower budget than it did in 2003 — and at the same time the population of the United States grew by 11% during that time, increasing the volume of possible violations.