What does wage theft cost a typical worker’s family?

An Economic Policy Institute report found California workers who were victims of minimum wage theft — who were paid less than the legal minimum wage — lost out on $64 in pay a week, or about $3,400 a year in 2015, the most recent data available. Adjusting for inflation, that’s about $80 stolen each week, or $4,250 a year, based on June’s record 9.1% inflation rate. 

For workers in low-wage industries, that means less food on the table, a harder time paying rent, or delayed trips to the doctor. 

A week’s worth of stolen wages can mean an empty 12-gallon gas tank in a car. 

A year of lost wages is the equivalent of three months of child care in California, or nearly one-and-a-half months’ rent in San Jose, nearly two months’ rent in Sacramento, and a little over a months’ rent in Los Angeles, according to Rent.com

Ironically, a year of stolen wages used to equate to a year of groceries for a family of four, but not this year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, now it would pay for only 75% of that typical family’s annual grocery bill.