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The president wants to extend overtime benefits to more people. Here's what that means
The Obama administration has announced that it will move forward with plans to expand overtime pay in what Politico has called the most ambitious government intervention on wages in a decade. - photo by JJ Feinauer
The Obama administration has announced that it will move forward with plans to expand overtime pay in what Politico has called the most ambitious government intervention on wages in a decade.

Right now, too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve, President Barack Obama wrote in an op-ed for The Huffington Post. That's partly because we've failed to update overtime regulations for years and an exemption meant for highly paid, white collar employees now leaves out workers making as little as $23,660 a year no matter how many hours they work.

According to President Obamas explanation in The Huffington Post, his proposal hopes to to extend overtime protections to nearly 5 million workers in 2016, covering all salaried workers making up to about $50,400 next year.

Of course, economic plans always have nuances and intricacies worth understanding. In order to help better make sense of the ins and outs of the presidents new proposal, here are a few takeaways from analysts:

Women will likely benefit the most

According to the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, the workers who will benefit most from the overtime changes are women.

For many womendomestic workers as well as office workerscoming under the overtime provisions will mean that they will actually have more time for their families and other pursuits, the EPIs Caroline Fredrickson wrote. But if they are indeed forced to work long hours, at least they will be paid for it.

According to the EPI, women are more likely to work in executive, administrative or professional positions that are labeled otherwise to avoid pay raises or overtime benefits.

The new regulation, which will also make it harder for employers to manipulate employees job titles to avoid paying overtime, will have an enormous positive impact on womens wages, Fredrickson wrote.

This is arguably the most ambitious economic plan of the Obama administration

Forget raising the minimum wage or dismantling the gender pay gap. According to some commentators, the overtime plan is the Obama administrations most ambitious economic effort yet.

The regulation would be the most sweeping policy undertaken by the president to assist the middle class, Politicos Edward-Isaac Dovere and Marianne Levine wrote. Adding that it would also be the most ambitious intervention in the wage economy in at least a decade.

By significantly increasing the salary threshold below which salaried workers get overtime pay, President Obama just took a big step toward updating a critical labor standard with the potential to boost the paychecks of millions of middle-wage workers, many of whom should be getting overtime but are not, Jared Bernstein, a former chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden, wrote in The Washington Post.

What the president has accomplished, according to Bernstein, is to put a powerful thumb on the scale to add some balance on behalf of working people. And for that he deserves our thanks.

As with all things political, not everyones happy

According to The Christian Science Monitor, some worry that extending overtime benefits might prompt employers to reduce hours and keep workers from advancing into salaried, managerial positions.

Millions of salaried workers will now become hourly and lose out on key benefits such as workplace flexibility and long term advancement opportunities, Robert Cresanti, a spokesman for the International Franchise Association, told The Christian Science Monitor. This is just the latest example of the Obama Administration unnecessarily meddling in the everyday management of small businesses.

The National Retail Federation, according to Bloomberg Business, expressed similar sentiments.

The proposal is going to cost billions of dollars, the NRFs vice president, Neil Trautwein, said in a statement, according to Bloomberg. Its going to limit advancement opportunities, and ultimately it will reduce employee benefits.

But, according to the president in the conclusion of his article for The Huffington Post, "America is at its best when we look out for one another." Despite the pushback from critics, the Obama administration hopes that this new plan can pull up the notoriously stagnant wages, and make the American economy a little more perfect.
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