Worker Stats

In the course of writing the print article for this site, I came across several reports with interesting statistics about underpaid workers and how they experience their jobs. Since I was unable to include more of this information in the article, I’m highlighting some of those report findings here.

Working Without Laws: A Survey of Employment and Labor Law Violations In New York City
By Annette Bernhardt, Diana Polson and James DeFilippis

“This report exposes a world of work in which America’s core labor and employment laws are failing to protect significant numbers of workers in the nation’s largest city. These protections – the right to be paid at least the minimum wage, the right to be paid for overtime hours, the right to take meal breaks, access to workers’ compensation when injured and the right to advocate for better working conditions – are being violated at alarming rates in the city’s low-wage labor market.”

  • 21% of workers surveyed were paid less than the minimum wage
  • 93% of low-wage workers who qualified for overtime pay were not paid overtime wages
  • 33% of survey respondents reported illegal deductions from their wages for things like work-related tools or materials
  • 23% of workers chose not to report complaints to employers, even if they experienced dangerous working conditions, because they were afraid they would be fired or thought their complaint wouldn’t make a difference
  • Wage theft, lost wages due to labor violations, is estimated at more than $18.4 million per week.


Home Economics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Workers
By National Domestic Workers Alliance, Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“This survey revealed that substandard working conditions are pervasive in the domestic work industry. Wage rates are low, the work is often hazardous, and workers rarely have effective recourse to improve substandard conditions.”

  • 23% of workers reported being paid less than the state minimum wage
  • 48% earn an hourly wage that is lower than the amount needed to support a family
  • 60% of workers surveyed spend more than half their income toward housing
  • 20% reported in the month prior to the survey that they didn’t have enough money to buy food
  • 29% of the housecleaners who responded to the survey experienced skin irritation from using chemicals in the workplace


The Dirty Business of Cleaning NYC’s Cars
By Wash New York, a coalition of Make the Road New York and New York Communities for Change

“There are almost 200 car washes in New York City’s five boroughs. Keeping the city’s cars clean are upwards of 5,000 employees. It’s an exploited workforce with wages that are low and too often illegal.”

  • 71% of workers interviewed worked 60 hours a week and 75% were not paid overtime wages
  • 66% earned less than the minimum wage, with the typical weekly pay being between $200-$400
  • 77% of car washers were not given protective gear when working with hazardous chemicals
  • Workers’ hours are not guaranteed, subject to weather and other unpredictable factors, making it difficult for workers to make ends meet
  • Workers’ tips are pooled and split among workers and the manager. One worker reported only making $5-$10 a day in tips.


2014 Taxicab Fact Book
By the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission

“…a quick look at the state of the yellow taxi industry.”

  • 9.5 hours is a typical shift for drivers
  • 98.9% of drivers are male
  • 43% of drivers who live in New York City reside in Queens
  • 23% of drivers are from Bangladesh and 13% are from Pakistan. Drivers come from across the U.S. and 175 countries around the world.
  • Workers net anywhere between $14 to $31 an hour, depending on the day and time, but do not receive benefits.