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dramatically with its consequential disemployment affect for young people, it is incumbent upon us to take action to halt the reduction of employment opportunities.
To provide job opportunities for young people, employers must be given an inducement to hire them.
The proposed substitute would accomplish this by establishing payment of a special youth minimum rate of 85 percent of the prevailing minimum wage, or $1.60, whichever is higher, for nonstudent youth and 85 percent of the prevailing minimum of $1.30, whichever is higher, for youths seeking farm jobs.
To assure that the special youth rates do not reduce the number of jobs available to older workers, the substitute authorizes the Secretary of Labor to prescribe standards and requirements to guard against loss of employment opportunities for adults.
I know that the Department of Labor is engaged in doing much to reduce the incidence of unemployment among the Nation's youth. However, more must be done. All these efforts will be diminished, if private employers refuse to meet the surplus of youths seeking jobs because of the inequitable increase in the minimum wage proposed by S. 1861 which prices unskilled disadvantaged young people out of the job market.
Another obstacle to youth unemployment is the existing requirement authorizing prior certification by the Department of Labor before an employer can hire a youth at a lower wage. The substitute would eliminate this cumbersome certification procedure while the committee bill seeks to perpetuate it.
Most youngsters want to work, either out of necessity or to help advance their education and future job potential. These youths must be given a chance to work-to become a part of society. I believe the youth differential proposal will help provide them with the entry they seek into the work force. I strongly urge its adoption.
Mr. President, I also call to the Senate's attention the table on page 127 of the committee report, outlining the unemployment rates for 16- and 17-year-olds from 1963 to 1972.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's 10 minutes have expired. Mr. DOMINICK. I yield the Senator 5 more minutes.
Mr. Taft. For male white 16- and 17-year-olds the figures started in 1963 at 17.8 percent. It drifted along, went down somewhat in 1964, 1965, and 1968. Then the unemployment figures started up slightly, and now are at 16.4 percent.
In the case of black youth, however, we see little improvement except in the year 1968 or 1969, when the 27 percent figure, which started in 1963, went down to about 25 percent.
Unfortunately, in 1972, however, we find it back up to 35 percent. I certainly think the Senate should consider this fact.
Further, I call to the attention of the Senate the table on page 130 of the committee report, where Senators Dominick, Beall and I have included a table from Dr. Thomas Moore showing the added youth unemployment effect that S. 1861 is projected to have. Let us take a look at those figures for a moment.
The effect of S. 1861 on teenage unemployment rates in added percentage points of unemployment is predicted to occur at a particularly alarming rate.
It is estimated that the total increased percentage that would be involved in September 1974, would be 11.6 percent. By 1975 these figures climb to 18.8 percent, in 1976 to 21.9 percent, and ultimately, by September 1979, to almost 23 percent increased unemployment among nonwhite teenagers. These figures are over and above the already too high figures and are only nonwhite figures.
It is little wonder, then, that Mr. Andrew Brimmer of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and one of our more prominent black citizens in this country, wrote to me in alarm. I have included his letter on this subject in the minority views of the committee report at pages 130 to 132. Mr. Brimmer points out that he felt it would be extremely disadvantageous insofar as black youth is concerned not to include some type of youth differential in the minimum wage increases to be enacted.
These figures are shocking and it is very difficult to understand why proponents of the bill continue to ignore this most pressing problem.
The real basis of the majority report of the committee is that the minimum wage must be increased quickly to end poverty in this country.
I do not agree with this proposition as it is inflationary, and not in the best interests of the individuals involved who are as they will be most hurt by inflation, especially those at the very low income level.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Haskell). The 5 minutes of the Senator have expired.
Mr. DOMINICK. I yield the Senator 2 more minutes.
Mr. Taft. Mr. President, Congress must try to alleviate poverty and unemployment. There are many other programs to meet these problems, which should be acted upon. But poverty is not going to be solved by the minimum wage law. Unfortunately, the higher we raise the minimum wage, the more the disemployment effect. The committee bill really goes too far and will increase poverty rather than help to correct poverty problems.
Opponents to the youth differential argue that: First, a lower teenage minimum would discriminate against older adult workers and simply shift unemployment from teenagers to adult workers; Second, a lower minimum wage would reduce the wages of teenagers who otherwise would be working at the standard minimum wage; and Third, teenagers will not take jobs at a subminimum wage. None of these arguments is based on factual analysis.
The argument that a lower teenage minimum would discriminate against older workers and thus displace adults is the most often cited reason for opposition to a youth differential. It is important to remember, however, that the youth differential is only applicable to youths under 18 and to full time students. Thus, the category of prospective employees is largely limited to students, as the average age of a high school graduate in this country is 18.1 years. Thus, the type of job opportunities sought will be part time and vacation oriented. Seasonal, recreational positions, training and intern positions, and marginal service employment are the employment opportunities most sought after by youths. These are the types of jobs adults do not actively seek, and in fact, very often adults refuse to consider these types of positions.
If there would be any adult employment displacement, as a result of youth differential-a notion which has never been statistically
proven—it would be so small and so limited as to have no discernable effect on the adult job market. The adults involved, if any, would be those who do not have the skills or experience to obtain better employment and should be provided with manpower training.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The 2 minutes of the Senator have expired.
Mr. TAFT. Mr. President, I do not care to elaborate further on the youth differential provision tonight. I believe the principal points with regard to it have been made and I hope they will be helpful to Senators in studying the bill. I will elaborate further tomorrow when the Senate returns to debate the Dominick-Beall-Taft substitute.
Mr. WILLIAMS. Mr. President, will the Senator from Ohio yield ?
Mr. WILLIAMS. On my time, yes. You keep the floor for some questions and it will be on my time for that purpose.
Mr. President, I oppose amendment No. 330 which is the so-called substitute amendment for S. 1861. This amendment is a replay of last year's arguments and last year's views. This amendment was defeated in the Senate last year because it was recognized that it was an insufficient response to the vital need represented by the committee bill.
The substitute amendment would have the effect of undercutting the careful work of the committee which considered each of the provisions of S. 1861 last year and this, as well as the deliberations of the Senate on this bill last year. Adoption of this amendment would preclude Senate debate on matters of vital importance to the working poor of this country.
The long suffering people who will receive the benefit of an amendment to the minimum wage bill are owed at least an open and free debate on each of the issues raised in the committee reported bill S. 1861.
For example, the substitute amendment is deficient in two principal elements; that is, the minimum wage rate and the expansion of coverage.
In addition the substitute incorporates a differential submission rate for young people, a provision which, as we have explained in some detail in the committee report, has the potential for undermining this country's long-standing policy of a floor on wages.
In light of a 35-percent increase in the cost of living since 1966, when Congress last legislated an increase in the minimum wage, the increases called for in the substitute are wholly inadequate.
They provide only a 121/2-percent increase at this time in the minimum rate, thus legislating a further slippage in the battle against the rising cost of living for the working poor.
S. 1861, as reported by the committee, at least provides a wage increase that will leave the minimum wage worker in approximately the same position that he was in 1966 with regard to the cost of living.
I recognize that the substitute and its wage rate actually goes to a higher scale of $2.30 in the fifth year. I would be frank to say that Congress ought to be in a position to be addressing itself to the needs of the low-wage workers at that time and not be bound to a wage rate which in 5 years will be hopelessly outdated.
I think the Members of this body ought not be fooled by the endloading procedure of the substitute bill. Yes, it looks good or reasonably so 4 or 5 years down the line, but that is really only part of the question. The basic and critical issue which the Congress must face today when we vote on this amendment—is whether or not the Congress is going to provide an adequate wage level for the millions of low wage workers now. It is not a question of what we do next year or the year after or the year after that. The question really is what we failed to do last year, failed to do the year before and must do now. I would note in passing that had we passed even the substitute bill last year the current wage rate under that bill would be the same $ an hour that is in the committee bill. The administration proposed a $1.90 wage package and in fact the Secretary of Labor during his testimony reflected that he could take a $2 minimum wage now. The substitute is deficient because it fails to recognize the $2 now.
In addition the substitute wage rate is deficient because it again provides a cynical approach to the needs of the American worker by suggesting that our economy can only stand a 10 cents an hour increment in any given time.
In this connection the treatment of farmworkers under this substitute is likewise cynical. The plight of the farmworker deserves better than a 20-cent-an-hour raise from the $1.30 an hour situation where the farm worker has been for the last 4 years. The farmworker deserves better than a minimum wage of $2 an hour in 4 years and a perpetual 30 cents an hour differential from the industrial wage rate. It is unneeded, unnecessary, and uncalled for.
I do not believe that we can in good conscience legislate a minimum rate that totally fails to recognize the plight of this Nation's work force.
Of equal importance to the wage rate deficiency in the substitute is the lack of any extensive expansion of coverage of the Fair Labor Standards Act except with respect to Federal, State, and local government workers.
I believe that the Senators who offered the substitute ought to be commended for at least accepting a proposition that public employees are to receive the minimum wage along with the millions of other covered workers, although I disagree with their failure to allow these workers overtime compensation protection. But there are many workers in the private sector whom the committee bill would assist and I believe that substitute is insensitive to these needs.
Since 1961 Congress has recognized that expansion of coverage goes hand in hand with an increase in the minimum wage in order to insure that the Fair Labor Standards Act provides adequate protection for those workers who need us. In my judgment the denial of overtime protection to public employees and the failure to repeal any of the minimum wage and overtime exemptions presently in the law are irresponsible oversights.
The hearings in the 92d Congress and the extensive record in the 93d Congress hearing reflect without question the need to eliminate or modify many of the exemptions in the private sector. The proponents of the substitute offered an amendment in committee which would have eliminated the repeal of the exemption substituting instead their proposition that the Department engage in additional studies of exemptions.
I would suggest to my distinguished colleagues that the department has spent nearly $15 million in the last 15 years studying exemptions. All of those studies have concluded that most of these exemptions are unnecessary and no longer warranted. The Secretary of Labor in testimony before this committee of this year made much of the same judgment. It is time to end the studies and repeal the exemption.
I urge opposition to this amendment.
Mr. President, I did not have the opportunity to hear all of the Senator's discussion of this legislation and the substitute he has joined the Senator from Colorado in offering, but as I was trying to talk to some of the exemptions that are dealt with in the legislation, I think I did hear the word "veto” mentioned again. So I am wondering whether the Senator could repeat what is the concern, what part of S. 1861 is basic to his veto concerns? It certainly is not the wage rates in the bill; is it? It cannot be the wage rates in the bill because Secretary Brennan, as he appeared, and I trust he speaks for the administration, and he is, in this connection, the administration's spokesman, said that he is ready for $2 an hour now. That is exactly what S. 1861 does. So, is it the wage rate that has brought this specter of a veto, this vague cloud suggested that will come over the bill if it should be passed here?
Mr. Taft. I believe that this is certainly one of the items involved
Mr. WILLIAMS. Notwithstanding what Secretary Brennan said? Mr. Taft. Yes.
Mr. WILLIAMS. In other words, the administration is vetoing the Secretary of Labor ?
Mr. Taft. I do not believe the administration and the Secretary are necessarily apart. I know the section in the transcript to which the Senator refers. I was present when the Secretary of Labor made the statement. I disagreed with it then and I do so now. I do not know precisely what the Secretary would say today, but I am certain he would reflect concern for curbing inflationary pressures in the eonomy.
The effect of the committee bill would be substantial to the economy. There is, as the Senator, I am sure, knows, a great body of economic opinion which feels that there is a ripple effect of very considerable substance when the minimum wage is increased. But more than that, psychologically other pressures are present in the economy. Inevitably if the Senate passes this bill, particularly with the largest increase in dollars and cents we have ever put into any one jump in a minimum wage bill, it will build a sizable demand pressure in the economy for higher wages and a possible breaking away from the wage guidelines. I want to commend organized labor on the fact that they have shown restraint in their wage demands in the major settlements made recently. I am encouraged by that. I hope this situation continues. I believe it also must continue in the Congress on this issue.
Mr. WILLIAMS. The things that have happened in the economy since, make it even more demanding that the $1.60 an hour be raised, that the worker get a little more money in order to pay that grocery bill.
Mr. Taft. The Senator is suggesting the poverty argument set out in the committee report. I frankly disagree with that argument. I do not think this is the way to handle the problem of poverty. Some work
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