On the value of "First Jobs"

Why Are Politicians Killing Off "First Jobs"?


What was your first job?

I stuck pieces of plastic and metal together at an Evanston, Ill., assembly line. We produced photocopiers for a company called American Photocopy.

I hated the work. It was hot and boring. But it was useful. It taught me to get good grades in school so I might have other choices.


I write about this because I’m appalled watching politicians kill off “first” jobs. (They say it’s to protect us.)

First, they raise the minimum wage. Forcing employers to pay $7.25 an hour leaves them reluctant to give unskilled kids a chance—why pay more than a worker can produce? So they offer fewer “first” jobs.
Comment: My first job was working at a greenhouse making $ 1. per hour. I started in the Spring of 1967. That summer I worked 54 hours a week ... 6 days X 9 hours and made $ 54 hours a week.

What did I do?
  • I boxed plants into flats and carried them and loaded them into a delivery truck
  • I mulched plants with manure
  • I blended potting soil: dirt, manure, and some other stuff in a large grinder / blower
  • I wheeled old dirt out and new dirt into greenhouses
  • I occassionally drove the delivery truck
  • I cleaned out the boiler (had to crawl inside and scrape it)
  • I cut weeds and tall grass with a scythe
  • I hacked vines off from fence with a small axe
  • I burned a giant brush pile
  • I mowed the owner's home lawn
  • I weeded the owner's private garden
  • I picked weeds
  • I cut flowers
  • I walked along side of a bush hog and picked up rocks / sticks ahead of it
  • I repaired greenhouse glass
  • I bulked up, muscled up and tanned up. I sweated a lot!
  • There were no sick days, PTO, or vacation days!
The seminal events:
  • A childhood friend's father committed suicide in the early morning hours of July 5th
  • A guy I met at the greenhouse died in an auto accident - not that summer but later that year (I think Spring 1968)
  • Two guys I knew well in H.S. died just after graduation. One: VW bug accident / other: tractor rolled over on him
Some have asked me about the $ 1 wage and minimum wage. This chart details that the minimum wage was $ 1.40 back then. Scroll right and the chart shows that the minimum wage for farm labor was $ 1.00. I was considered farm labor. In February 1968 I received a 15% raise to $ 1.15! The following Summer (1968) I started working at Monsanto Chemical and made as I recollect about $ 3.00 per hour.

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