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US child labour violations rise as businesses defy laws to fill roles

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Child labour breaches have soared in the US as businesses grappling with staff shortages resort to illegally using teenagers to fill graveyard shifts.

Violations of child labour rules rose by 37 per cent during 2022, according to official US figures, with the number of minors discovered by the Department of Labor to be unlawfully employed increasing from 2,819 to 3,876.

The tight labour market has driven companies desperate for workers to hire those once overlooked, including teenagers. But this trend has coincided with a jump in groups being caught flouting restrictions on where and when minors can work.

“At first, we were like, ‘Yay, teenagers are finally back to taking teenager jobs that they have been pushed out of’, like at ice-cream shops and as lifeguards,” said Alicia Sasser Modestino, public policy and economics professor at Northeastern University.

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