Rexburg, Idaho is home to Yellowstone Bear World, a nature preserve where families and spectators encounter Rocky Mountain Elk, Bison, Mountain Goats, Mule Deer, White-Tail Deer, Moose, Gray Wolves, and obviously Black Bears and Grizzly Bears. However, with the economy the way it is, there just isn’t as much demand for seeing bears from the luxury of your car anymore. Yellowstone Bear World has mentioned that they cannot afford to pay their 35-to-40 member staff of mostly high school students the federal minimum wage, but rather than cut staff the park has asked lawmakers in Idaho for permission to pay $6.50 an hour, $0.75 below the federal minimum wage.
The Idaho Senate passed a bill that amended exemptions for the federal minimum wage. Although the Idaho House is modifying the bill, it is encouraging to see that Idaho is willing to help businesses stay afloat by freeing them for arbitrary regulations. Although $6.50 doesn’t seem that much it is a lot better than making $0.00 an hour.
While it is nice to have people being paid “high decent wages,” the minimum wage raises the operating costs of businesses, keeping businesses from expanding, keeping entry level employees out, and keeping unemployment up. The 2007 Federal Minimum Wage Increase killed 550,000 jobs, the Bureau of Labor noting that almost 49% of minimum wage workers were between the age of 18 and 25.
If this legislation passes then Yellowstone Bear World and other ailing businesses can have their cake and eat it too, keeping valued employees while paying them something.