Get those kids into the meat freezers… for the economy.

As local economies grapple with a tightening labor market, some state legislatures are looking to relax child labor protections to help employers meet hiring needs.

It’s part of a persistent trend in labor economics, experts say. When employers struggle to find talent, many prefer to hire younger, cheaper workers rather than increase pay and benefits to attract adults.

“Because of the high demand for workers, where there are holes in the system, unfortunately child laborers can get caught up in staffing some of those holes,” said David Weil, a professor of social policy and management at Brandeis University, and a former wage and hour administrator at the Department of Labor.

Legislators in Iowa and Minnesota introduced bills in January to loosen child labor law regulations around age and workplace safety protections in some of the country’s most dangerous workplaces. Minnesota’s bill would permit 16- and 17-year-olds to work construction jobs. The Iowa measure would allow 14- and 15-year-olds to work certain jobs in meatpacking plants.

In a tight labor market, some states look to another type of worker: Children

Here I thought that we, as a society, agreed that children shouldn’t work in dangerous places, like meat packing plants.

I forgot that we shouldn’t want those dear little companies to have to do something like pay competitive rates in order to attract workers. That wouldn’t be good for the economy because… of reasons.

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