As child labor violations soar across the country, dozens of states are ramping up efforts to update child labor laws — with widespread efforts to weaken laws, but some to bolster them as well.

The push for changes to child labor laws arrives as employers — particularly in restaurants and other service-providing industries — have grappled with labor shortages since the beginning of the pandemic, and hired more teenagers whose wages are typically lower than adults’.

Labor experts attribute the spike in child labor violations, which have tripled over the past 10 years according to a Post analysis, to a tight labor market that has prompted employers to hire more teens, as well as migrant children arriving from Latin America. In 2023, teens aged 16 to 19 were working or looking for work at the highest annual rate since 2009, according to Labor Department data.

That’s led to the largest effort in years to change the patchwork of state laws that regulate child labor, […]

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