Sunday, September 6, 2009

Who Will Get Hired and Who Won't

Various pundits have noticed that older folks are having serious trouble getting hired...disproportionately so. Why? The pundits seem puzzled. But, the answer is pretty straightforward: older folks are protected by anti-discrimination laws. In practice, such laws mainly serve to provide litigation costs whenever older (40 and over) workers are laid off. If 40 and over workers are more likely to sue you when they are laid off, then a rational businessman won't hire them. You can't hire them and pay them less, because that would violate anti-discrimination laws. So, the intelligent decision is to simply not hire them in the first place. The Obama Adminstration has signaled a willingness to strengthen the enforcement of all anti-discrimination laws. These policies will weigh heavily on their beneficiaries -- women, minorities and older workers. Businesses will simply avoid hiring these groups because of the high potential for litigation.

Another group that seems to be getting whacked in the US labor market are teenagers. Their situation was further aggravated by an increase in the federal minimum wage that took place this summer. Perfect timing.

One of the lessons from all of this is that you really don't want politicians to pass laws to protect you in the workplace. All this does is make you more expensive to an employer and less desirable as an employee. These laws hurt the most vulnerable members of our society and are an insult to common sense.

There won't be much hiring any time soon, thanks to the current Administration and Congress, but what little there will be will be concentrated away from women, minorities and older workers.