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Commentary: Are minimum-wage jobs a stepping stone, or full-time career?

Minneapolis city council candidate Ginger Jentzen, centre, celebrates with other supporters of the $15 minimum wage increase after it was passed by city council on June 30, 2017.
Minneapolis city council candidate Ginger Jentzen, centre, celebrates with other supporters of the $15 minimum wage increase after it was passed by city council on June 30, 2017. Elizabeth Flores/AP/File

When I was young and had a minimum-wage job sweeping floors and taking out the garbage at my local Woolworth’s store, I never thought about how I was going live off what I was making part-time.

It was my first job, a starter job.

It now seems the objective of those jobs are to provide a livable wage, instead of extra cash or a stepping-stone internship of work/life experience.

READ MORE: Metro looking at automation to help offset impact of Ontario minimum wage hike

Advocates of a minimum wage increase say that the role of those jobs is different now.

Minimum-wage jobs are often all that is left due to job loss, and many workers have to take on more than one part-time gig in order to make ends meet.

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Ian Lee, associate professor at the Sprout School of Business at Carlton University, says that’s not entirely accurate.

He says only about nine per cent of employees in the province work for minimum wage.

READ MORE: Ontario labour minister says plans for minimum wage hike aren’t swayed by new report

Of that nine per cent who earn minimum wage, two-thirds are under the age of 25.

Whatever side of the issue you are on, you must first decide what the objective of a minimum-wage job is — simply a stepping stone, or something that could be a full-time career?