Baumgartner introduces 'teen wage' bill in effort to lower minimum wage for some

OLYMPIA -- State Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R- Spokane, has introduced a bill that would reduce the minimum wage for summer teenage workers in Washington, all in hopes of getting more teens to work.

Baumgartner's bill, SB6471, would allow employers to pay teen workers the federal minimum wage of $7.25-an-hour for jobs that last from June to the end of August.

The bill, called the "Teen Summer Jobs Act," would combat high teen unemployment and generate more job possibilities for a generation craving work, Baumgartner said.

"Right now, too many teens are losing the chance to develop a strong work ethic because they can't find summer jobs," Baumgartner said. "We need a change that can give today's teens the same chance at the American dream that I had."

The minimum wage in Washington state is currently $9.32-an-hour.

As some local governments in Washington have pushed to raise the minimum wage to $15-an-hour, Baumgartner seems to buck the trend. aligning himself with studies that show increasing the minimum wage increases teen unemployment.

Baumgartner said that while it may seem counter-intuitive, requiring employers to pay a lower wage to workers until their 20th birthday could actually entice employers to hire more teens, benefiting the teens later in life.

"Statistics for 2013 were just released, showing Washington's teen unemployment rate at thirty percent," Baumgartner said. "If we don't make a move to provide more of these kids with job opportunities, we'll really be doing them a disservice later in life."

The bill does not impact teens paid year-round, Baumgartner said.