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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 31 2013: The issue, at least in the United States, is not those under the age of 18 working. It is those over 18 that are un or under - employed and working at minimum wage. A stepped wage sounds like a wonderful idea, but when you look at 10 - 20% unemployment, depending on which numbers you use, then the minimum wage is not very helpful when you raise it. An increase is still nothing for those not working.

    Now, a better plan might be to step your support for those who are working at minimum wage. Include insurance and such for support as most minimum wage jobs provide no insurance, time off, or benefits for the employees. That is where most people can't catch up or get ahead. They are spending every dollar of their paycheck just to survive. The addition of basic benefits would help many of these folks to maintain or get ahead in their daily lives.

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