Idaho House committee OK's minimum wage exemption for amusement parks

Posted Thursday, March 11, 2010 7:48 PM | Contributed by Jeff

The Idaho House State Affairs Committee joined with the Senate in approving a measure that would exempt amusement parks from the federal minimum wage. The exemption already exists, notes the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, but only in federal law.

Read more from The Idaho Reporter.

Thursday, March 11, 2010 8:45 PM

It sucks that amusement park employees aren't looked at as having a "real" job. The people ensuring the safety of little children on amusement park ides are making less than minimum wage.

If the park in the story can't afford to pay a decent wage, they should charge more.

The park is worried that if they had to pay minimum wage, the poor high school kids may have to compete with older, more experienced employees for a job at the park? That's hilarious.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010 10:15 PM

Actually, that very scenario has played itself out at a number of parks across the country in the last couple of years. Seasonal parks have seen record numbers of people at their job fairs over the past couple of years, and there are two reasons for that: first, because the employment situation in general is for crap, and second because in a number of states, large increases in the minimum wage have made those seasonal jobs more attractive to people who previously wouldn't have considered a minimum wage job.

The problem with minimum wage is that on the whole, the people who benefit the most are the dependent 'children' who are working for pocket money. Meanwhile, the people that the minimum wage is supposed to help, the low-end professionals who *were* making slightly more than minimum wage, are the ones who get their hours cut and lose their jobs to pay for the pocket money crowd. Perfect example: Ohio dramatically increased the minimum wage (by about $2.00/hr) and established a ratcheting index to inflation. The very day that new wage went into effect, a major retailer activated its self-checkout stands and went from having three cashiers during the school-day to only one. The losers weren't the part-time "kids" who were working 5p-9p for $5.50/hr (and now get $7.50), it was the full-time adults who were working 9a-5p for $8/hr. who don't get full time hours anymore...assuming they still have a job.

We can argue all day about the merits of what kind of pay for what kind of work, but the fact remains that for many parks in seasonal climates, a lot of the jobs are part time, temporary, introductory type work, work that is ideally suited to a particular group of workers. Like it or not, that is why the exemption exists.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Friday, March 12, 2010 4:59 PM

I agree, That's a good point Dave.
I wonder if a survey has ever been done to see if parks that haven't adopted this policy seem to have more automated services?

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Friday, March 12, 2010 5:46 PM

LostKause said:
It sucks that amusement park employees aren't looked at as having a "real" job. The people ensuring the safety of little children on amusement park ides are making less than minimum wage.

You should run for office. That's exactly the kind of thing that a politician like Ed Markey would say. Do it for the children. Please.

The exemptions for farm and amusement park work, generally seasonal in nature, makes sense to be exempt from some of the wage laws, as you can't do them year-round. And Dave is right about the way the minimum wage law really doesn't help the right people in most cases. I suppose one could make an argument that a higher minimum does push for higher numbers in "real" jobs, but it's hard to say. One could also make the argument that it drives up inflation, so the net gain might be zero.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010 1:03 AM

I don't understand why anyone would support the idea that some jobs shouldn't pay minimum wage. While it doesn't take a college edumication, an amusement park job should still pay just as much as a burger flipping job, for example.

Any reason why they shouldn't is just a convenient excuse, benefiting the park's owners.

Before anyone says it, waitresses get tips, which offers incentive to do the job well. While I still think it's crap that most businesses don't pay them what they should, it makes sense nonetheless.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010 3:16 PM

I disagree. For one thing, market forces have prevented any parks that I'm aware of from paying less than minimum wage. They've used the overtime exemption pretty freely, and I'm OK with that as well. For another thing, as I said, if it were a true "occupation," it's confined to a short period of the year, doing work that requires virtually no skill and isn't realistically expected to be a living wage occupation for anyone.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010 3:39 PM

Just what is the minimum wage, anyway? It's not an amount of money that you can realistically live on even with full-time hours. With the recent increases, it tends to be an above-market floor for part-time unskilled "pocket money" jobs under the guise of providing a living wage for low-end professionals. In reality, because it is above market for certain jobs, in those areas it tends to skew hiring for the no-skill temporary jobs towards those who can be had for lower pay, and it tends to depress wages and working hours for those low-end professionals.

(There is an answer to that question, by the way. It's a back-door to increasing union scale wages which are already well above market rates, but which are indexed to the minimum wage, not to the market wage.)

The reality is that until the minimum wage went up above the market rate, most businesses couldn't hire for minimum wage anyway. The market wouldn't allow it. Even in our office, which hires minimum wage work-study students, we have to pay more for the non work-study student employment people because the market demands it. And either way, because the work is tied to financial aid, increases in wages only result in reduced eligibility for jobs that actually accommodate academic schedules

(Yeah, 20 years ago I worked both work-study for $5.25 and an untipped food service job for $7. No doubt in my mind which was the better job, nor which one put more cash in my pocket. Plus it played a role in getting me where I am today... :) )

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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