Bruce Hunter: Iowans lose $600 million to wage theft each year
By Rep. Bruce Hunter, House District 34
FEBRUARY 2019 – The news is not good.
Currently women in the state of Iowa make 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. We rank 31st in the U.S. when it comes to the gender wage gap, and the statistics are even worse for women who are African American, Latina, Asian American and Native American.
According to a recent study, 266,000 people lose $600 million per year in the state of Iowa due to wage theft issues. Iowa loses approximately $120 million in unpaid sales, income and payroll taxes annually. One in six construction workers is a victim of wage theft.
At the end of 2013, an Iowa Workforce Development misclassification unit found that over 380 employers had misclassified over 5,000 workers by claiming they were independent contractors instead of employees. Because of this over $90 million in wages had not been reported.
Wage theft is almost always connected to misclassification cases due to lost overtime and unpaid wages. In addition, those 5,000 workers lost out on unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits.
I am currently sponsoring a number of bills dealing with wage inequities in Iowa. The first, HF 89, deals with wage disparities between men and women and minorities and nonminorities. HF 24 concerns job misclassifications to avoid paying unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits. I have also introduced a bill, which does not yet have a bill number, which deals with wage theft.