WA. legislative bill targets youth unemployment with a training wage

CLARKSTON, WA - Washington state representatives are taking a new approach to lowering the unemployment rate, in a surprising move that would pay new employees lower than minimum wage.

The bill under consideration would create a "training wage," allowing employers to pay 75% of minimum wage to recently hired employees. But Representative Cary Condotta of Washington State's 12th District says it's a move to help youth. Washington ranks at a staggering number five for most unemployed youth in the nation.

"We have an extremely high unemployment rate for youth and the idea is, is to re-open these entry level training positions," said Condotta. "We've seen those just disappear and we want to re-create the entry level position, that training position and try to get that youth unemployment rate down."

Condotta said because the minimum wage in Washington is the highest in the nation, employers are very selective about the people they hire, making it difficult for people to break into the workforce. However the bill is restricted to businesses with 50 employees or less and only one of every ten employees can qualify for the training wage.