This is why the middle class can’t get ahead

By:  Nick Hanauer

Editor’s Note: When’s the last time you worked overtime? How about the last time you worked overtime and got paid for it? If you’re in the middle class, probably not recently.

Only Americans who make less than $23,660 a year are automatically eligible for time-and-a-half pay after working 40 hours a week. Today, that’s only 11 percent of salaried workers. It didn’t used to be this way, and it doesn’t have to stay this way, argues venture capitalist Nick Hanauer.

Just like President Obama has taken executive action on immigration, Hanauer believes the president can and should take executive action to raise the salary threshold for overtime eligibility.

Hanauer’s a billionaire who made his fortune as one of the original investors in Amazon. The current rules are written to benefit wealthy capitalists like him, he admits. So, you might ask, why does Hanauer care about overtime pay for people who make less, much less, than he does?

“Ironically,” he writes, when “you earn less, and unemployment is high, it even hurts capitalists like me.” That won’t surprise Making Sen$e readers who’ve heard his brand of “middle-out economics.” Closing the income gap wouldn’t just benefit the middle class; a stronger middle class is the source of economic prosperity for everyone, he thinks.