I have only skimmed the new DOL overtime rules, but this bit really hit a nerve:
The Department has long recognized the salary level test as “the best single test” of exempt status. If left at the same amount over time, however, the effectiveness of the salary level test as a means of determining exempt status diminishes as the wages of employees entitled to overtime increase and the real value of the salary threshold falls. In order to maintain the effectiveness of the salary level test, the Department proposes to set the standard salary level equal to the 40th percentile of earnings for full-time salaried workers ($921 per week, or $47,892 annually for a full-year worker, in 2013).
This is exactly the kind of thing that will look scientific to you average journalism major. See, $921 is not arbitrary, it is set at the 40th percentile of salary earnings.
WTF? Where did the 40th percentile come from? Out of someone's butt, that is where. The Administration started with a number they wanted, between $47K and $50K and then obviously went looking for some round-number metric that landed in this zone to justify their number as somehow analytically based.
Think about it. The 40% number is meaningless. In fact it is worse than meaningless, it is astoundingly arrogant. Basically they are saying arbitrarily that 40% of people earning a salary should not be earning a salary. What do these people do? What are their alternatives? What are the other circumstances of the job that might affect them? What is the value of their benefits? None of this stuff is considered. Some arrogant jerk just drew a line and said, below this line all those folks are paid wrong.