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Wage and Hour Division

Wage and Hour Division (WHD)



The Wage and Hour Division takes a vigorous, strategic approach to enforcement. We focus our efforts on those industries where the evidence shows violation rates are high, and where we find vulnerable low wage workers who are often reluctant to assert their rights and raise their voices.

These efforts succeed and WHD sees results every day.

1.7 Million workers helped by WHD since 2009

$1.5 Billion back wages recovered for workers by WHD since 2009

Putting wages into the hardworking hands

of those who have earned them...

Back Wages Collected

Back Wages Collected

In fiscal year 2015, WHD found over $246 million in back wages for more than 240,000 workers - another year of meaningful progress toward our goal of ensuring a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

View Statistics


Resource Prioritization

Graphical representation of various worker occupations

The laws enforced by WHD apply to 7.3 million establishments and protect 135 million workers. We will never have enough investigators to examine every business. We prioritize and direct our resources to where the data and evidence show the problems are largest, where emerging business models lead to violations, and where workers are least likely to exercise their rights. In fiscal year 2015, more than 42% of our investigations were agency-initiated, up from 35% just 6 years ago. Click here for more details on resource prioritization for more details.

84% of agency-initiated investigations in FY2015 were in low wage industries

An average of more than $8900 in back wages in agency-initiated investigations, which is a 21% increase from 2009 and 2015

We found wage violations in 79% of these agency-initiated investigations in fiscal year 2015, up from 65% in fiscal year 2009. We are looking in the right industries, and within these industries we are looking in the right places.


WHD continues to find more back wages for more low-wage workers.

In fiscal year 2008, WHD found back wages of $57.5 million in low-wage industries for 76,900 workers. In fiscal year 2015, WHD found $74.3 million in low wage industries for 102,000 workers. That is more than a 29% increase in back wages and more than a 32% increase in the number of workers.

32% of Low-Wage Workers helped 29% of Back Wages for Low-Wage Workers


Helping workers put food on the table.

In fiscal year 2015, WHD collected an average of more than $676,000 in back wages for workers every day. That’s enough for more than 3,600 working families to buy a week’s groceries. Click here for more statistics with low-wage industries to view back wages collected for workers in low-wage industries.

*BLS Consumer Expenditure Survey 2014.

Pay Recovered

WHD investigations in fiscal year 2015 found, on average, more than $1,000 for each employee due back wages. For waiters or waitresses, that means nearly four times what they would earn in a typical workweek. Imagine how challenging it would be if you weren’t compensated for three and a half weeks of work. That’s the reality for many workers who don’t get paid what they have earned.

We are finding more back wages for more low wage workers. Click here for more details.



WHD has long recognized that enforcement alone is not enough – we proudly engage in a robust outreach and education program that continues to educate employers and workers alike to promote compliance

Since 2009 WHD conducted more than 15,000 Outreach events



$1,000 represents multiple paychecks to typical workers in many industries*

Maid / Housekeeper

2.9 Paychecks

$1,000 equals 2.9 Paychecks for a Maid/Housekeeper

Security Guard

2.4 Paychecks

$1,000 equals 2.4 Paychecks for a Security Guard


2.8 Paychecks

$1,000 equals 2.8 Paychecks for a Janitor

Landscaping / Groundskeeper

2.4 Paychecks

$1,000 equals 2.4 Paychecks for a Landscaper

Retail Cashier

3.5 Paychecks

$1,000 equals 3.5 Paychecks for a Cashier

(*based upon BLS data for average wage rates and weekly hours per occupation)



More than five weeks of groceries

at $185/week

$1,000 buys nearly 5 weeks of groceries

More than a month's rent

at $800/month

$1,000 buys more than a month's rent

More than three months of utility bills

at $300/month

$1,000 buys nearly three months of utility bills

More than 5 weeks of childcare

at $185/week

$1,000 buys more than 5 weeks of daycare

(Estimated costs based on Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditures Survey 2012 and 2013 – annual national level data.)

Click here to view Fair Labor Standards Act Back Wages.

Click here to view Low-Wage Industries Statistics.

Click here to view Child Labor Statistics.

Click here to view FMLA Enforcement Statistics.

Click here for Agricultural Enforcement Statistics (including H-2A, MSPA and OSHA).

Click here for Enforcement Statistics for Industries Employing High Numbers of H-2B Workers.

Click here for H-1B Enforcement Statistics.