American Elephants

You’d Like to Work for Free, Just to Get Your Foot in the Door? Nanny Government Says No. by The Elephant's Child

Unemployment is still high, but for younger workers it’s really bad.  In the last year, the unemployment among workers age 20 to 24 has risen to almost 16 percent, and among teenagers to 26 percent.

You might think there would be a federal effort to encourage employers to give unskilled youngsters a chance.  Well, no.  The Labor Department has instead decided to start a campaign to crack down on unpaid internships that regulators claim violate minimum wage laws.

If you’re a for-profit employer or you want to pursue an internship with a for-profit employer, there aren’t going to be many circumstances where you can have an internship and not be paid and still be in compliance with the law,” the Labor Department’s Nancy J. Leppink tells the New York Times.

The Times quotes Trudy Steinfeld, director of New York University”s Office of Career Services, regarding opportunities for unpaid internships. “A few famous banks have called and said, “We’d like to do this,” said Ms. Steinfeld.  “I said, No way, You will not list on this campus. ”

It used to be a way for a young person to get a start at marketable skills.  They were willing to trade their labor for a change to demonstrate what they could do and have  something to put on their resume, for the next job.  It’s bad enough when politicians have so little understanding of beginning workers that they hike the minimum wage up in the illusion that the minimum wage supports families.  Raw beginners with no marketable skills aren’t worth a lot to an employer. They have to be taught a lot, which takes time, and time costs money.

Minimum wage workers seldom remain at minimum wage for long, once they have skills they can move up.  Letting young people take unpaid internships is not exploiting young people.   Once again the Nanny state chimes in, making it illegal to work for free.

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