Paying a person doing the same work as another person less money because of their sex or religion or ethnicity or any other grounds prohibited under the Human Rights Act is illegal and abhorrent. Yet, the Right wants to do just that with a private member’s bill from Roger Douglas reintroducing a lower minimum wage for 16 and 17 year olds (Age is a prohibited ground for discrimination when the person is over 16, HRA s21(1)(i)).
Why do they want to do this? The real reason is because they hate the minimum wage. If you aren’t in the position to bargain for a living wage then that’s tough sh*t for you, is the Right’s position. But that’s not the official line, of course.
No, they wheel out some supposed “academic research” that supposedly shows the abolition of the youth minimum wage on April 1 2008 has caused unemployment among 15-19 year olds to rise faster than for other age groups. The “academic research” is a post on an obscure libertarian blog and the evidence is false. Abolishing the youth minimum wage hasn’t caused 15-19 unemployment to rise. 15-19 unemployment has risen because of the recession.
15-19 unemployment is always higher than that of other age groups. Yes it has risen more than the unemployment of other age groups but it has risen in proportion with the unemployment of other age groups. If the increase was due to the abolishment of the youth minimum wage then we would expect the increase in 15-19 unemployment to be disproportionate. It hasn’t been disproportionate, in has been in proportion. Just like Maori unemployment has risen higher but in proportion with unemployment in other ethnic groups. If the Right genuinely think that abolishing youth rates increased 15-19 unemployment to be consistent they have to claim it also increased Maori unemployment, or find another explanation specific to Maori, or propose a lower minimum wage for Maori, and I don’t see them doing any of that.
Look, I go swimming with a mate sometimes. He’s a bit faster than me. He’s done 10 laps by the time I’ve done 8. If we were to do more and he reaches 20 when I’m still at 16 would we say ‘Jesus, what happened? How did you beat me by 4 laps when usually you beat me by 2? Did you have some extra weetbix for brekkie?’ No. The gap is proportionally the same, it’s just we’ve gone further. Likewise, the unemployment rate for the 15-19 year age group (only 2 years of which was covered by the youth minimum wage, remember) hasn’t risen out of proportion to the unemployment rate of other age groups, the gap is bigger because total unemployment is higher:
There was long-term trend through the 2000s of the ratio of 15-19 unemployment to general unemployment rising (because unemployment between older people was falling more sharply) but there is no change associated with the abolishment of the youth minimum wage on April 1 2008. If the youth minimum wage was causing youth unemployment, the ratios should have jumped. The relationships between 15-19 unemployment and unemployment in other age groups have remained basically the same. They have all risen due to the recession, and they have risen in proportion to each other. No other explanation needs to be made up…. unless of course your real agenda is to undermine the wages of working New Zealanders.