Federal government increases overtime salary threshold

Sep 24, 2019

For immediate release – Sept. 24, 2019

Contact: Tonda Rush, tonda@nna.org


The annual salary threshold for exempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act will increase on January 1 to $35,568 from $23,660, the United States Department of Labor announced today.  The announcement officially killed a rule on the books that would have caused minimum salaries would go up to $47,476. That rule that had been put on hold first by court action and then by the Trump administration in 2016.

The Labor Department said it had considered the petition of National Newspaper Association, the YMCA, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and others to allow the increase to be phased in. But the desires of large employer organizations to absorb only a one-time adjustment won the day.  The Department did say, however, that it was discarding its original proposal to revisit the threshold every four years. Instead, it said, reviews should be dictated by economic conditions.

The announcement was not a surprise to NNA, according to President Andrew Johnson, publisher of the Dodge County Pionier (Mayville, Wisconsin).

“NNA had concerns and still has concerns that many of our newspapers in economically-distressed areas are going to find this new threshold impossible to meet. They will have no choice but to reduce staff and knock some full-time jobs back to part-time. That inevitable consequence will hurt news coverage in those areas.  We urged a phased-in threshold to help protect those jobs, but although our concerns were heard, the Department decided to recognize them in other ways. At the same time, this threshold has not been revisited since 2004. We acknowledged it was time for an adjustment.  And we are immensely relieved that the old proposal to double the salary base in one gigantic leap, which really would have been a job killer,  is now officially dead,” Johnson said.

Johnson said NNA would provide more guidance to employers in Publishers’ Auxiliary.

“In light of the effect of this decision upon some of our smaller newspapers,” he said, “we expect more salaried part-time jobs to be created in the industry.  Employers are specifically instructed in this new rule that salaries for part-timers are a recognized way to meet fluctuating work-week needs in businesses. NNA appreciates the Department’s clearer guidance in helping our members comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act.”