How will President Obama’s move to require overtime pay change architecture?

President Obama signing a bill, via

President Obama signing a bill, via

For decades, bosses [in certain professions] have groomed their assistants to be the next generation of big shots by working them long hours for low wages.

Call it the “Devil Wears Prada” economy, after the novel depicting life working for a fictionalized Anna Wintour, the longtime Vogue editor.

But now, with the Obama administration moving to require time-and-a-half overtime pay for most salaried employees making less than $47,476 a year, that business model is suddenly under assault.the New York Times

“The change presents more than an economic challenge for the companies that rely on the willingness of young, ambitious workers to trade pay and self-respect for a shot at a prestige job down the road.”

The article doesn’t explicitly reference architecture, but as Archinect’s past coverage on the state of internships in the field makes clear, it could. Many firms employ a business model that involves underpaying interns and other young workers – or not paying them at all.

Like many of the employers quoted in the article, some architects contend that this culture breeds better architects in the long run. Additionally, since some firms won’t be able to afford overtime hours, their interns will end up getting less “training time” (and fewer opportunities to impress the highers-up).


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