Boots & Sabers

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1837, 25 May 23

States Consider Letting Kids Work


Lawmakers proposed loosening child labor laws in at least 10 states over the past two years, according to a report published last month by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. Some bills became law, while others were withdrawn or vetoed.


Legislators in Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa are actively considering relaxing child labor laws to address worker shortages, which are driving up wages and contributing to inflation. Employers have struggled to fill open positions after a spike in retirements, deaths and illnesses from COVID-19, decreases in legal immigration and other factors.




The Ohio Legislature is on track to pass a bill allowing students ages 14 and 15 to work until 9 p.m. during the school year with their parents’ permission. That’s later than federal law allows, so a companion measure asks the U.S. Congress to amend its own laws.




Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law last year allowing teens aged 16 and 17 to work unsupervised in child care centers. The state Legislature approved a bill this month to allow teens of that age to serve alcohol in restaurants. It would also expand the hours minors can work. Reynolds, who said in April she supports more youth employment, has until June 3 to sign or veto the measure.

As a kid who worked and the father of kids who worked, some of our child labor laws are just dumb. They are not congruent with modern life. For example, modern, productive kids are busy kids. They have band, sports, theater, etc. after school and often aren’t done until 6 or after. The 7 pm cutoff eliminates their ability to work at all. They could easily work until 9 and still have time to get some homework done and get a decent night’s sleep.

There is an inherent value and dignity in work. If kids don’t learn that early, they may never learn it.

Let kids work. It’s not about fixing a labor shortage. It’s about helping kids mature into productive people who take pride in themselves.


1837, 25 May 2023


  1. MjM

    It’s not about fixing a labor shortage. It’s about helping kids mature…


    I only hope the “kids” of today can mature because most of their most parents haven’t.

    (WAYYYY back when, my first job was sweeping floors/after hours cleanup at an Ace Hardware where my oldest sister worked in the office. Four days a week during one summer, 8:30pm-11pm. Fridays and Saturdays during the school year. I was 14. Mr. Cortez, and old Mexican gentleman, was my boss.)

  2. Jason

    The “labor shortage” is turning into a myth. The reason there are service industry businesses that are “closed due to staff shortages” are because they cannot sell their products at enough profit to cover wages, inflation, and taxes… All of which have gone up due to Left policy and actions.

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