CKE Restaurants' Puzder: Government Policy Worsens Youth Unemployment

Wednesday, 11 Jun 2014 09:41 AM

By Dan Weil

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Government policy, including recent minimum wage increases and Obamacare, has exacerbated the problem of unemployment among youth, says Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, which includes Carl's Jr. and Hardee's.

Young people have greatly suffered economically during Obama's presidency, he writes in The Wall Street Journal. For example, during the past two years, the labor participation rate for 20 to 24 year olds has dropped to levels unseen since 1973, Puzder notes.

"Various states and municipalities have increased their minimum wage, thereby increasing the cost of employing inexperienced workers," he writes. Seattle has led the way with an increase to $15 an hour.

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"The bottom line on labor: make something less expensive and businesses will use more of it. Make something more expensive and businesses will use less of it," Puzder argues.

As for Obamacare, it too is raising the cost of hiring rookie workers, he explains.

The law requires businesses with more than 50 full-time employees to provide health insurance for staffers working at least 30 hours a week.

"Obamacare gives businesses an incentive to either eliminate entry-level jobs or keep the workers' hours to under 30 a week," Puzder states.

"To get on the ladder of opportunity, America's young people need jobs. Creating disincentives to hire them diminishes the notion that 'if you work hard and take responsibility, you can get ahead.' The reality is that you can't get ahead if you can't find a job."

Meanwhile, a new CNNMoney poll shows that 71 percent of Americans favor an increase in the federal minimum wage. Not surprisingly, 90 percent of Democrats support a hike. But a majority of Republicans — 54 percent — do so as well.

President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats have proposed boosting the federal minimum wage to $10.10 from $7.25 currently.

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