Youth Unemployment in North Carolina Can Exacerbate Work Safety Concerns

In North Carolina, many young people are unemployed. Since 2001, there has been a 255,000 increase in the number of young people in North Carolina who are out of the labor force. Around nine percent, or 22,000, of the youths who are out of the labor force report that they actively are seeking a job. Older adults and adults of prime working age have recovered most of the ground lost during the recession, but the unemployment rate for young workers has only recovered by 55 percent. The decline in young people participating in the labor force has hit multiple age groups, but the youngest group of people aged 16 to 24 has seen some of the biggest drop-offs in labor participation according to NC Commerce. help wanted.jpeg

When young people are not able to find jobs, they do not get the on-the-job training they need to be safe at work.

Many are also forced into internships, which an Asheville work accident attorney knows carry some substantial legal risks. Interns may not always be classified as employees, and thus may not be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

Youth Unemployment Can Put Young Workers at Risk

Employers have to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for all employees. In some cases, employers try to argue that young interns are not actually employees. North Carolina’s workers compensation laws do not provide exemptions to workers’ comp requirements for either interns or volunteers, but there are exceptions in other states. For example, in South Carolina, those who are considered “volunteers” are exempt from workers’ comp coverage.

If a young person isn’t covered by workers’ compensation, then he may not get benefits if he gets hurt on the job. Without workers’ comp, a young person who gets hurt could receive monetary damages only if he could sue and prove an employer was negligent in a way that led to the work illness or injury. If a work accident was a fluke or it happened simply because the young person wasn’t experienced at his job, it might be difficult to prove negligence and the young worker would not have any recourse.

High youth unemployment rates could also lead to teens doing jobs that aren’t appropriate for them. Safety BLR reported on a 16-year-old laborer killed by a swinging crane. The teen was standing in a danger zone that had not been adequately marked, even though teens are not typically allowed to work in positions involving the disassembly of heavy-duty construction machinery.

Young workers not only experience more difficulty finding jobs due to high youth unemployment in North Carolina, but are also more likely to leave the positions they have. According to NC Commerce, the separation rate (rate of young people leaving their jobs) for young North Carolina workers is twice the separation rate for people who are in prime working age (age 25 to 54). Temporary workers and those who change jobs frequently are often at greater risk of work injuries both because they do not become familiar with workplace safety practices and because they do not form strong bonds with co-workers that lead to effective communication and reduced injuries.

Employers need to be aware of the risks to young workers during times of high youth unemployment and should be sure to protect their young and vulnerable employees.

Contact the North Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

More Blog Entries:
Campos v. Daisy Construction Co. – Benefits for Injured Undocumented Workers, Nov. 25, 2014, Asheville Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog

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