Good things are happening! States are taking action against abusive child labor, and First Amendment protections could prevail in the WikiLeaks case. Also, retirement funds will now be in safer hands, disadvantaged communities join the clean energy revolution, and transgender people could soon score safer workplaces.

States Act To Protect Their Youngest Workers

At least a dozen states are proposing more stringent laws to protect their youngest workers this year, in response to surging child labor violations and a coordinated effort to roll back child labor protections.

Since the pandemic’s onset, employers have faced an increasingly tight labor market and many have turned to hiring teenagers, often at lower wages than their adult counterparts. Data from the Labor Department shows that teens aged 16 to 19 were employed or seeking work at the highest annual rate last year since 2009. The Department also found more than 5,000 minors were working in violation of child labor laws in 2023, an 88 percent increase since 2019.