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Eric Hazelle

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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 23 2013: Numerous studies and basic economics show that if you raise the cost of something, less is used. The whole idea of raising the minimum wage is based on the idea that large numbers of bread-winners are paid minimum wage. Our own census data shows that is not the case. Young people and the unskilled are paid the minimum wage as are part-time workers. These people are not heads of households. As these folks develop skills they move up in salary. IRS studies have shown that people do not stay in the minimum wage category or any other category over 10-year periods. There is a constant movement to higher wages as people gain experience ending when retirement causes income to fall. The impetus for raising the minimum wage is to support Union claims for increased wages. "If unskilled labor gets a raise our members deserve one too".

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