Saturday, July 23, 2011

Teen Employment

State Senator Michael Baumgartner posted this on his Facebook page today.

Have the teens you know been able to find summer jobs? I've heard from several employers in Spokane who won't hire teens for summer work at $10+ an hour, but who would for $7 an hour.

Imagine that. Employers are willing to pay less in order to hire a teen. Along with that statement he posted a link to a National Review Online article, "A Starter Wage For Teenagers".

In that article, the authors state:

While the overall weak economy is certainly at fault, another major factor was the decision by Congress and President Bush to raise the minimum wage over 40 percent in the face of a weak economy, without exempting teenagers — thus pricing teens out of the labor market and denying them crucial work experience.

Their only support for saying this was a "major factor" is by referring to the increase of the wage by percentage points. But what is in real dollars? Before it was raised to $5.85 (Jul 07), $6.55 (Jul 08), and the current level of $7.25 (Jul 07), the minimum wage was $5.15 and had been for almost 10 years. (Washington State's minimum wage is currently $8.67 but employers can pay 14 and 15-year-olds at 85% which is $7.37.)

The authors reference a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in April 2010 and say it suggests:

...that teen unemployment could be reduced by exempting teens from the minimum wage and instead instituting a "sub-minimum training wage."

It took me a while to find the report (PDF) but what it actually stated is:

One option would be to introduce a youth sub-minimum wage in those countries with a relatively high and universal statutory minimum wage where such a sub-minimum wage does not exist.

Even at $8.67 the minimum wage hardly qualifies as a "relatively high".

The authors end with this suggestion for Congress to help teens find work.

Exempt teenagers from the 2007 legislation increasing the minimum wage. Let them work for $5.15 an hour — if they want to and that’s what an employer wants to pay. Let them gain work experience and move up the wage ladder from there.

Interesting. If they want to and if that's what the employer wants to pay. If?

I bet Senator Baumgartner could also hear from some employers who won't hire teens for summer work at $7 an hour, but who would for $5.15. Or even less.


Bill Foss said...

I bet if you got it down to $1 an hour we could get some factories up and running again.

Senator Baumgartner! Finally someone willing to bring us back to the great depression!

todd said...