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FGA Finds States with Youth Work Permits Create Unnecessary Barriers for Teenage Workers and Take Decision-Making Rights Away from Parents

Naples, FLYesterday, the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) identified a barrier to work that many states have created by using youth work permits to determine a teenager’s eligibility to participate in the workforce.

FGA researchers explain that the health and safety of children are already protected under the Fair Labor Standards Acts to ensure that those under the age of 18 can participate in the workforce without jeopardizing their well-being. In comparison, state-created youth work permits are certifications issued by school administrators that grant teenagers permission to work. Over the years these certifications have become an unnecessary attempt to extend bureaucratic oversight and may have disincentivized or delayed teenagers from seeking employment opportunities. In the process, school administrators have been given priority in decision-making rights compared to parents and guardians.

Findings further show that the teenage workforce participation rate increased dramatically in the early summer of 2021 with nearly one-third of teenagers employed. At this time, nearly 11 million jobs remained available as a result of the labor crisis. This labor shortage shed light on teenagers’ eagerness to join the workforce and likely led to the unemployment rate reaching less than 10 percent for teenagers aged 16 to 19, the lowest since 1953. States that delay the hiring process for teenage workers with youth work permits may be unintentionally cutting off a critical source of their workforce.

“States are creating unnecessary hurdles for teen job seekers by requiring them to receive the approval of school administrators before accepting a part-time job or volunteer opportunity. If the school refuses to issue a work permit, then a young person cannot work—even if parents believe a job is in the best interest of their child,” said Lauren McCarthy, a Research Analyst at FGA. “State lawmakers should eliminate youth work permits to end the influence given to school administrators and restore the decision-making rights to students and their parents.”

State lawmakers can make a significant and immediate impact on their local communities and economies by removing unnecessary red tape with the removal of youth work permits.  


The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) is a non-profit, multi-state think tank that promotes public policy solutions to create opportunities for every American to experience the American Dream. To learn more, visit

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