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A stepped minimum wage

In the U.S., minimum wage has come up again. If it is raised, employers say they'll have to lay off minimum wage workers to cover the extra expenses. Proponents say it will give minimum wage workers a "living wage".

How about this? Have a stepped minimum wage. (The following numbers are just for discussion sake, not proposals for definitive compensation.) Let's permit kids age 14-15 to get work permits, for something like Macdonald's, or Walmart. They'd be allowed to work, say, 15 hours a week flipping burgers or stocking shelves and getting, say, $6 an hour. It would give them an income, teach them to handle money, contribute to their family, and they'd be able to work as long as their school work didn't suffer.

When they turn 16, increase their hours and pay to 20 and $7 an hour. Again, subject to school performance. At age 18 permit full-time employment as long as they've graduated from high school at $8.50 an hour, unless they're married and have a family, then give them the proposed new minimum wage. (What is it? $10.50 an hour? Anyway.)

From there, put percentages on the number of employees in each category an employer could have. Say a MacDonalds could have 20% 15 year olds, 20% 16, 20% 18 and so on. Tweak the numbers so they'd be paying no more than what they're currently paying.

Benefits; kids off the streets and productively employed, contributing to the family's income and learning working skills. A system that employers of minimum wage workers could support, and not be out extra money.

As I say, this is just for discussion; tweak the numbers, percentages and ages to get a workable plan, then see if congress could go for it.

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    Mar 21 2013: Good, valid question but it needs MUCH more research...There is one minor fallacy in your opening statement....The implication that employers can not afford to pay a living wage...The problem is that over the past 35 years while we as a nation have seen incredible growth in worker productivity the wages and Bennes paid those workers have remained static or lost ground. If (for example) the MINIMUM wage of 1968 had kept pace with inflation and productivity it would now have to be over $22.00 per hour. The other hidden fallacy is that corporations can't afford to pay higher taxes.. The Corporations are lying..They absolutely CAN afford both a living wage and the higher taxes but it would cut their profit margins from double digits to the old (1980s) standard of 3% to 6%...THAT is what the wage fight is about from the corporate perspective...that is also why the past 6 administrations have allowed unfettered illegal immigration...it drives wages down...

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