Message to the Congress Transmitting Proposed Youth Employment Opportunity Wage Legislation

May 17, 1984

To the Congress of the United States:

I am pleased to transmit to you proposed legislation entitled the ``Youth Employment Opportunity Wage Act of 1984.''

One of the Nation's most serious and long-standing problems is providing adequate employment for our young people. The purpose of this proposal is to remove a government-created impediment that makes it difficult for young people who want to work to find jobs.

Studies over the past decade have repeatedly demonstrated that the minimum wage has reduced job opportunities for large numbers of our youth. This is particularly true for jobs involving considerable initial training. The restricted job opportunities for youth, especially minority youth, due to the minimum wage have contributed to the growing consensus on the value of a lower minimum wage for youth as a means of expanding their employment. Many organizations, large and small, including the National Conference of Black Mayors, have formally endorsed the concept of a youth employment opportunity wage.

A business cannot be expected to hire a youth unless it can reasonably anticipate that the work done by the youth will be worth the required wage. While some businesses can afford to hire unskilled youth and provide the training and experience expected to pay off in future productivity, such expectations are often unreasonable over a short summer employment span. This proposed legislation would permit employers to pay wages equal to 75 percent of the minimum wage to young people under 20 years of age hired to work between May 1 and September 30.

The proposal would enable employers to expand job opportunities for youth during the summer months. It would enable many young people to find jobs, earn money, and gain the experience and skills needed for future work and higher wages. The bill would not prevent those with work skills from getting the higher wages they are worth. It prohibits discharge, transfer, or demotion of any adult, or youth employed in order to hire a youth at the summer wage.

I urge the Congress to speedily enact this legislation.

Ronald Reagan

The White House,

May 17, 1984.