A recent Bee article, “Wage theft is a serious issue in California,” misleads readers on both the nature and the scope of so-called “wage theft” in California.

The article claims $77.4 million in wages were “stolen” from California workers in fiscal year 2018-2019, citing a report from the State Labor Commissioner. This number is less impressive in context: Californians collectively earned over $5 billion in wages and salaries over the time period in question, according to Federal Reserve data; $77.4 million represents just 1.5% of the state’s total wage bill.

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