How will Obama’s overtime proposal impact La Crosse County?

Plan will give overtime pay to some salaried workers

When President Barack Obama lands in La Crosse, he’ll be unveiling a plan giving overtime pay to 5 million more salaried American workers.

“This law would mandate for those hours, greater than 40 hours a week, the worker would get time and half,” said Adam Hoffer, an associate economics professor at University of Wisconsin La Crosse.

Right now salaried employees making under $23,660 are guaranteed overtime. Obama’s proposal would extend that to workers earning anything less than $50,440.

“I think what policymakers would like to do with this is increase the lower end of the income distribution,” Hoffer said.

Vicki Markussen, the executive director of the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce said that’s a large portion of the 75,000 workers in the county.

“We would be hard-pressed to find a business that isn’t impacted by the proposal if it were to go through,” Markussen said.

While Markussen said the intent to increase wages is always positive, the proposal could cause price hikes especially in some of La Crosse’s biggest industries like arts and entertainment, tourism and dining.

“Is price increase even an option? What does that do for their competitiveness? What are their competitors? How are they going to react so the market works itself out?” Markussen said.

And officials said such a proposal might not even be necessary for the La Crosse area.

“It’s really an employee’s market right now. If they don’t like their work conditions there are many other employers that will take them,” Markussen said.

The proposal does not need congressional approval to be adopted, It will be up for discussion for a period of time before the Labor Department finalizes it next year.

The proposal would not impact hourly workers. They will continue to get overtime as they do now.