Updated 03/11/2013 05:41 PM
Raising state minimum wage could mean fewer summer jobs for teens
There's a number of proposals out there to raise the state minimum wage. Currently, it's $7.25 an hour, but lawmakers have suggested changing it to $8.75, even $9. Regardless of which they choose, the higher wage could mean fewer summer jobs for teens. YNN's Megan Cruz explains.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- "Everybody recognizes the need to raise the minimum wage," said State Senator Malcolm Smith.
But as for the consequences of doing so, that's why the Senate Committee on Social Services held a hearing Monday to talk about how raising the minimum wage might negatively impact state-funded youth programs, like the Summer Youth Employment Program.
"If it's raised, it'll essentially downsize the number of slots," said Smith.
This is how the employment program works: The state teams up with non-profit organizations and small businesses who are interested in hiring teens for the summer, specifically teens from at-risk, low-income families. In return for these summer jobs, the teens' wages are subsidized by the state. It pays teenagers minimum wage. That's why the higher the wage, the fewer jobs the state can offer.
Jacqueline Negri, the Executive Director of the Association of New York State Youth Bureaus (ANYSYB), said, "Statewide, we have about 50,000 youth that participate in the program and we're anticipating about 7,500 to 8,000 might be impacted if the minimum wage goes up."
While a majority of the jobs go to New York City teens, those at Monday's hearing said a change in the wage would have a significant impact up here, as well.
"Even though the population is a smaller number of youth, just referring to the poverty statistics in upstate communities, these may be the only employment opportunities to vulnerable youth," said Andrea Smyth, Executive Director of A. Smyth Advocacy, a group who lobbies for ANYSYB.
Now, youth advocates said it's not that they don't support raising the minimum wage, they do, but not without increasing the program's budget as well. This year, they were allotted $25 million.
"We're hoping we’ll receive an additional $10 million to assure that the summer youth employment program stays intact," said Negri.
"Well, we're fighting for it," said Senator Smith. "Everybody's been quite sensitive to it."
Teens have already started applying for spots in the program. Most jobs begin in July.