August 25, 2016

Connecticut’s Jobs and Wages by Industry Since 2008

The following chart compares the jobs gained and lost in Connecticut by industry since 2008 (in blue) and the average annual wage for each industry (in green).  It is based on data from the Connecticut Department of Labor (DOL).  As the chart shows, the largest gains over this timeframe were in educational and health services, while the largest losses were in manufacturing. 

For more details, including descriptions of the industry sectors, visit DOL’s website.

Note: Wage data is from 2014 because it is the most recent available data

July 26, 2016

Over Four Million Salaried Employees Becoming Eligible for Overtime Pay

As reported in USA Today, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has finalized a new rule that raises the salary threshold at which white-collar workers are exempt from overtime pay from $23,660 to $47,476.  An estimated 4.2 million executive, administrative, and professional workers whose salaries fall within that range will now be entitled to overtime pay.  The rule will take effect December 1, 2016.  The salary threshold will be updated every three years and will rise to $51,000 on January 1, 2020.

The rule clarifies the duties white-collar workers must perform in order to be exempt from overtime pay (e.g., "administrative" duties involve exercising discretion and independent judgment).  If a salaried employee makes more than $47,476 but does not perform the duties required to be exempt, he or she is still eligible for overtime pay.  Labor Secretary Thomas Perez estimates that an additional 8.9 million workers would become eligible for overtime pay if their jobs were properly classified.

Employers can comply with the rule by (1) starting to pay overtime, (2) raising employees’ salaries to the new threshold to avoid paying overtime, (3) instructing employees not to work more than 40 hours a week, or (4) cutting employees’ base pay to offset the new overtime payments.

Visit DOL’s website for more information.

July 18, 2016

State Voting Rights for Felons

About 5.85 million Americans cannot vote because they were convicted of felons, according to the New York Times, which cited research done by the Washington based The Sentencing Project. But, during the last 20 years, about 20 states have restored voting rights to felons, with Virginia being the most recent one to do so.  Its governor recently issued an executive order restoring voting rights to about 200,000 convicted felons who served their prison time and finished parole or probation, the New York Times reports.

States that allow felons to vote vary in terms of conditions under which they allow felons to do so.  Virginia’s executive order places it with Florida, Iowa, and Kentucky as having the strictest restrictions.  A couple of states, including Vermont and Maine, have no voting restrictions; some restore voting rights automatically when a felon is released from prison while others do so after the felon completes the sentence, including prison, parole, and probation; and others restore rights only for felons convicted of certain criminal convictions.  The Brennan Center for Justice provides a resource map identifying each state’s provision.

Connecticut law restores voting rights automatically following release from prison or a parole discharge.  Thus, convicted felons are allowed electoral privileges while on probation.  CGS § 9-46a outlines the procedures for restoration following release, which include the correction commissioner’s certification that the person was discharged from prison and, if applicable, released from parole.  The commissioner must also notify the secretary of the state who subsequently notifies the registrar of voters in the municipality where the convicted person resided.  Once notified, the registrar must restore the released person’s voting privileges.  If that person was not an elector at the time of the felony conviction, he or she must provide proof of their qualifications to become an elector.  

The trend toward restoring felons’ voting rights shows some signs of reversing. The executive orders imposing Florida, Iowa, and Kentucky’s actually overturned previous orders allow felons to vote under less severe restrictions.