Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Training Wages" would benefit Maine teens

Maine State Rep. David Burns (R-Whiting) is sponsoring a bill to lift minimum wage requirements for Maine teens during their first six months of employment.

LD 1346 would also reduce limitations on hours worked by teens in school. Opponents are spinning this as a return to child labor. It always amazes me how laws designed to keep children out of dangerous factories and coal mines are still used to keep kids away from air-conditioned offices.

Minimum wage laws are a ban on the hiring of workers with low skills, and teenagers are some of the biggest victims on these well-intentioned laws. It's a price floor, and like all price floors, it distorts and lowers demand. Minimum wages raise the wages of workers who have jobs, but it also reduces the number of jobs and increases unemployment for those with skills to low to justify the artificial wage.

By allowing teens to sell their labor cheaper, this legislation would help the young workforce market itself better in the future.

This bill is a rare treat - a direct and faithful economic principle as a template for legislation. I hope this passes and Maine becomes a natural experiment in the employment level of teenagers.


  1. This bill would only encourage employers to give needed jobs to teens as opposed to adults. It's pathetic and anyone who supports it must be greedy or small-minded.

  2. I'm not sure the law would have much of an effect. Most companies plan further out than 6 months. It's like Obama offering a $3k tax incentive to hire someone as though the cost of a recurring salary isn't a factor.