There’s a growing national movement against noncompete agreements. Jay Inslee, governor of Washington and 2020 presidential candidate, signed a law in May barring noncompetes for anyone who makes less than $100,000 annually, and in June, Maryland banned them for low-wage workers. Additional states, including New Hampshire and Vermont, are considering bills that would significantly weaken these contracts, and the momentum even extends to Capitol Hill, where three senators recently introduced a bill that would ban noncompetes nationwide.
Unfortunately, noncompete agreements are still pervasive. About 30 million U.S. workers, or roughly one in five, are bound by them, according to the U.S. Treasury. And as the salary scale climbs, so does the percentage of those who have signed one. Noncompetes cover about 14% of workers making less than $40,000 and nearly 50% of those making more than $150,000, says a 2019 report from the Economic Innovation Institute. Only California, North Dakota, and Oklahoma forbid enforcing them altogether, and in nearly half of the states, these agreements can prevent even laid-off employees from working in their industry for a year or more.