Mr. SCHATZ. Mr. President, I want to join my colleagues in voicing my support for President Obama's proposal to extend overtime benefits to nearly 5 million people across the country. These new rules will significantly enhance family budgets and add over $1.2 billion nationwide to workers' pockets. Once implemented, the proposal would more than double the salary threshold for overtime eligibility from the current level of $455 per week to $970 a week next year. That means employees earning an
annual salary of around $50,000 or less will automatically become eligible for overtime pay. Today, the annual salary threshold for earning overtime pay is around $24,000. That is well below the poverty level for a family of four, particularly so for families in Hawaii.
The overtime salary threshold is long overdue for an update. Since 1975, it has been updated only once. Forty years ago, nearly two in three employees benefited from overtime pay--two in three. Today, it is one in nine.
I appreciate the priority this administration and especially Secretary Perez have placed on work and family issues, policies that directly impact the lives of average Americans.
According to the Department of Labor, approximately 20,000 workers in Hawaii would become eligible for overtime pay with this rule change.
By increasing the overtime salary threshold, current employees would be able to earn more money and employers could hire more workers, creating more jobs for our economy.
Housing, transportation, and food costs in Hawaii have made Hawaii one of the most expensive places to live in the country. The high cost of living requires a large percentage of people in Hawaii to work more than one job. The new overtime rules could allow workers to make a liveable wage with one job. If a worker is able to live without a need for a second or third job, it creates more employment opportunities for individuals struggling with unemployment or underemployment to find work.
The potential change in overtime rules can offer more than financial benefit to Americans. If a business does not want to pay overtime, the employees' hours would be limited to 40 hours a week. Since they are salaried and not paid by the hour, they would have more time off with no loss of pay. This would allow individuals to better balance their work and family obligations and give them the opportunity to spend more time with their family, a chance to volunteer in their community, or perhaps
further their education.
The new rules will be subject to a 60-day public comment period. I encourage my constituents from Hawaii to let their voice be heard.
This change in overtime rules is appropriate and will help to lift our national and state economy, offer families more choices, and foster greater fairness in the workplace.
I yield the floor.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.