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February 15, 2023

Should CT lower working age to address workforce shortage? One lawmaker thinks so

YEHYUN KIM / CTMIRROR.ORG Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford

Adding to a growing trend across the country, a Connecticut lawmaker has proposed two bills that would lower the working age in certain industries to help address the state’s labor shortage. 

One bill (SB 832) would allow supermarkets to employ individuals who are at least 16 years of age in positions currently limited to individuals over 18 years old, as long as the individual receives appropriate training and supervision.

Another (SB 831) would allow amusement parks to hire individuals who are at least 14 years old to perform nonhazardous jobs such as cashier, clerical work, ticket sales and concession sales, among other positions.

State Sen. Eric Berthel

Both bills were introduced by state Sen. Eric C. Berthel (R-Watertown) and they were raised in the Joint Committee on Labor and Public Employees.

The bills are one of many introduced in states across the U.S. this year aiming to reduce the working age in some industries to help stem workforce shortages.

Connecticut employers reported over 100,000 job openings at the end of November.  

The Des Moines Register reported this month that a bill in Iowa would allow 14- to 17-year-olds to work certain currently prohibited jobs as long as they participate in a work or school-based learning program and have proper supervision and training.     

In Ohio, legislators have introduced a bill to allow 14- to 15-year-olds to work until 9 p.m. year-round as long as they have permission from a parent or legal guardian, according to a recent report from the Ohio Capital Journal. That’s two hours later than what’s currently allowed. 

More than a dozen states have extended working hours for teens in recent years, according to the Ohio Capital Journal.

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