Despite there being 157.9 people vaccinated in the United States, there is still an ever increasing employment gap that has resulted in a surplus of minor-aged employees.
Senator Mark Messmer (R-IN) tried to fill the gap of underaged youth who are eligible to work in Indiana with the Senate Enrolled Act 409. The bill removes the responsibility of issuing work permits from schools.
In his home state, Senator Messmer has already loosened work permit requirements for minors. The new law requires Indiana employers who recruit five or more minors under the age of 18, per locale, to list those workers in the new Youth Employment System registry. Currently more than 5,000 Indiana business owners enrolled in the system have registered more than 33,000 minor employees according to WANE News.
“The main group asking for this legislation was Indiana employers who complained that the work permit process was slow and clunky,” says Messmer.
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So what is really at the core of this widening employment gap? CBS News reports that some workers are leaving for new job opportunities, while others have decided to start their own businesses. There are also workers who quit their jobs in hopes of finding better opportunities once the economy recovers from the pandemic. As well, employees were laid off due to the economic downturn at the height of the COVID public health crisis, resulting in higher unemployment wages for some.
Human Rights and Environmental Activist, Mohamad Safa tweeted “If poor people can make more money on unemployment than at their job, it means that their job wasn’t paying them a fair wage in the first place. If a job is worth being done, it’s worth being paid enough to live.”
In contrast, the opposite end of the aisle is of the belief that low wages are not the cause of the employment gap. When it comes to unemployment Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) says “You shouldn’t be paid more on unemployment than you do at work…It’s disincentivizing people from going back to work.”
At present, there have been no changes in the amount of hours that minors can work. The maximum number of hours minors under the age of 18 can work is 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week during non-school days. During a school period, minors are allowed to work three hours on a school day and 18 hours total a week, as per the US Department of Labor.
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