Looking in more detail, in the United States in 2012, there were 292,074 robberies of all kinds, including bank robberies, residential robberies, convenience store and gas station robberies, and street robberies.3 The total value of the property taken in those crimes was $340,850,358. Those are not the robberies that were solved; those are all the robberies that were reported to the police, anywhere in the nation.
No one knows precisely how many instances of wage theft occurred in the U.S. during 2012, nor do we know what the victims suffered in total dollars earned but not paid. But we do know that the total amount of money recovered for the victims of wage theft who retained private lawyers or complained to federal or state agencies was at least $933 million—almost three times greater than all the money stolen in robberies that year.
[note that the wage theft stats are of necessity conservative estimates due to incomplete information from several state agencies]
Even the nearly $1 billion collected is likely an under-count of the problem given that most victims don’t contract lawyers or file complaints. Relying on a study of low-wage workers in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York, which found that workers were losing nearly $3 billion to wage theft, EPI generalized to the rest of the country and estimated that it’s robbing people of more than $50 billion each year. And even that may be a low figure, given that the three-city study found that two-thirds of workers experienced at least one form of wage theft each week, yet a recent poll of workers nationwide found nearly 90 percent of fast food workers had experienced it.