A child laborer Credit: Lewis Hine / NC Museum of History.

Working in industrial laundries at age 14, laboring up to 35 hours a week on top of school — some US states are relaxing the barriers to employing minors, despite rising cases of exploitation.

At least five states have amended their legislation covering adolescent job regulations, with Arkansas being the latest to see changes take effect in August.

But such shifts come as the number of illegally employed minors has surged by 69 percent since 2018, according to Labor Department figures.

Removing the work permit process for young people in Arkansas “might sound like it’s not a big deal, but we actually think it’s a pretty impactful law,” said Reid Maki, coordinator at the Child Labor Coalition.

“Eventually this will allow some kids to end up in jobs they really shouldn’t be in,” he told AFP, adding that the work permit requirement “should not have been removed.”

A spokesperson for Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders pushed back against that characterization, saying it is “still illegal for minors to work dangerous […]

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