Critics Lose Their Mind as Arkansas Makes It a Bit Easier for Teens To Work
Last week, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a bill making it a bit easier for teenagers to enjoy gainful employment. Predictably, the usual suspects piled on, accusing state lawmakers of sacrificing children to Mammon. But in the midst of a national labor crunch, Arkansas is hardly alone in contemplating loosened restraints on teenage workers. The move might not only fill jobs, it could also improve young Americans’ prospects for future prosperity.
“In Arkansas the days of trapping our people in poverty, welfare and government dependency are over,” tweeted Sanders after signing the Youth Hiring Act, which in few words eliminates a requirement that 14- and 15-year-olds get permits from the state government in order to work.
The Sky is Falling… on Toiling Teens
Citing the dangers of illegal child labor involving migrant children, critics immediately attacked the idea of eased legal employment.
“The new Arkansas law is just one of a number of state bills loosening child labor restrictions, despite evidence that young children are already engaged in dangerous and exploitative labor throughout the country,” charged Vox‘s Ellen Ioanes.
“Arkansas Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a bill into law this week that rolls back a number of child labor protections across the state,” insisted CNN’s Sydney Kashiwagi.
“Gotta admit – loosening child labor laws was not on my Top 10 List for our CA legislative session this year,” huffed California Gov. Gavin Newsom as he linked to a news report of the reform.
“Our laws are now in line with AZ, CO, and TX,” Huckabee Sanders shot back to Newsom. “You might recognize them as states like mine that Californians are fleeing to.”
Young Workers Take the Jobs That Adults Don’t Want
Not only is Arkansas meeting the standard set by other states with its new work rules, it’s also, as Vox‘s Ioanes conceded, in good company in seeking to reduce barriers to teen employment. That’s a pressing concern in a tight labor market with adult labor force participation remaining stubbornly lower than it was before pandemic-era restrictions. The worker crunch has pushed employers to hire younger workers (my then-16-year-old son fielded multiple offers when he went job hunting in Arizona) and states to loosen restriction on teenage employment.
“Adding to a growing trend across the country, a Connecticut lawmaker has proposed two bills that would lower the working age in certain industries to help address the state’s labor shortage,” Hartford Business Journal noted last month.
Axios reports similar proposals in Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Ohio, as well as Connecticut and the enacted reform in Arkansas. “The laws and proposals have largely be
Article from Reason.com