Saturday, February 10, 2007

Minimum wage increase decreases teen employment

Apparently, the higher minimum wage in Arizona is reducing employment among the unskilled - especially teenagers.

Some Valley employers, especially those in the food industry, say payroll budgets have risen so much that they're cutting hours, instituting hiring freezes and laying off employees.

And teens are among the first workers to go. Companies maintain the new wage was raised to $6.75 per hour from $5.15 per hour to help the breadwinners in working-poor families. Teens typically have other means of support.

Mark Messner, owner of Pepi's Pizza in south Phoenix, estimates he has employed more than 2,000 high school students since 1990. But he plans to lay off three teenage workers and decrease hours worked by others. Of his 25-person workforce, roughly 75 percent are in high school.

It's not like this was unexpected.

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