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Employers assign more overtime during labor shortage

Although Bureau of Labor Statistics data show average weekly overtime hours fell slightly from February to March 2018, employers—especially in the construction, mining and logging industries—are assigning workers extra hours to help handle labor shortages, according to

Employers in these industries have asked their workforces for overtime hours at higher year-over-year rates, with hours increasing as much as 50 percent at some companies. As a result, some workers regularly put in 50- to 60-hour workweeks. Asking workers to work overtime allows employers to maintain current benefits levels in a tight labor market, but the hours cut into profits and cause strain for workers and employers.

Automation is eliminating staffing increases and overtime costs for some companies, but new machinery and software can take up to six months to activate and require workers with tech skills to operate them, which can make automation a risky investment.