Economic Snapshot | Overtime

Postdoctoral researchers are vastly underpaid. Restoring overtime rights will help fix this.

Postdoctoral researchers (postdocs) are highly educated researchers who have completed rigorous Ph.D. programs, but they are often paid low wages and work long hours. Some of these workers make an effective salary of less than $15 per hour despite 11 years or more of undergraduate and graduate education. The good news is that the Department of Labor’s restored overtime rule would guarantee anyone earning up to $50,000 the right to earn overtime pay—including postdocs, who will likely get a raise to put them above the new salary threshold or start receiving overtime pay.

Many colleges and universities, however, have complained that they cannot afford to pay their postdocs overtime pay or give them a raise above the $50,000 threshold. Instead, they want the new overtime salary threshold to be lowered to $40,000 a year or less. If ability to pay is a concern, they should perhaps look at the top of their organizations, and not try to prevent hardworking postdocs and social workers from getting a raise: The University of Michigan executive who testified against the overtime rule is paid well over $200,000 a year. The university executives making decisions about who deserves to be paid overtime need to rethink their priorities.

To learn more about the upcoming change to the overtime law, visit our overtime issue page.

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