- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 10, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Your Monday On the Job column, “Mandating sick leave” (Business, Plugged in), tried to take a balanced look at requiring paid sick days for workers. However, it neglected to mention how such a mandate would hurt the country’s most vulnerable workers.

Considering that the national unemployment rate has increased a shocking 71 percent since May 2008, now is not the time to compel businesses — many already running on razor-thin margins — to stomach a forced increase in labor costs by the government. Many companies, especially small businesses, are forced to respond to these higher labor costs by cutting staff hours, vacation, benefits and wages.

Imposing a typical sick-leave mandate likely would increase employer costs by as much as 5 percent per year. Research from the University of California at Irvine shows that an increase of 5 percent in labor costs would cause another spike in unemployment beyond current levels (with the largest unemployment increases among vulnerable demographic groups such as high school dropouts and minority teens).

Policymakers who are truly concerned with aiding the nation’s entry-level work force should focus on job growth — instead of pushing mandates that take away job opportunities for the country’s most vulnerable workers.

KRISTEN LOPEZ EASTLICK

Senior economic analyst

Employment Policies Institute

Washington

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