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Minimum wage increase doesn’t mean fewer student jobs

The worst time to have a minimum wage increase is during a recession because the chance of finding work becomes harder as the unemployment number grows, said USF Professor of Economics Donald Bellante.

That’s not the case for students on campus.

Mike Tooke, assistant director of the Career Center at USF, said that even though there has been a decrease in the number of companies advertising with the University because of the recession, students will still be able to find job opportunities.

“The Career Center is still working to help students find jobs and assist them in preparing for jobs that they are interested in applying for,” he said.

On July 24, the federal minimum wage increased to $7.25 compared to $6.55 that was enacted last year. In January, the minimum wage in Florida was $7.21, but now all employers must meet the federal requirements. The increase was the last of the three-step Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007.

There are two types of jobs on campus: Federal Work-Study (FWS) and temporary jobs.

FWS jobs are for need-based students that are funded by federal and institutional funds and available during the fall and spring semesters, Tooke said.

“Average hourly wage tends to vary a bit on the job but general support jobs can range from $7.50 to $9, reading tutors/community service jobs from $9 to $10, and specialist and techs from about $8 to $12 an hour,” he said.

Other employments on campus can include jobs like computer lab assistants, clerical positions, research assistants and delivery assistants, Tooke said.

“You can see that as the minimum wage slowly increased over the years, we have tried to maintain as best as possible the number of jobs available to students,” Tooke said.

The USF Bookstore hires a large number of students for temporary jobs, which usually last for 90 days, said Grace McQueen, USF Bookstore manager. After 90 days, the students’ jobs are either terminated or become seasonal.

McQueen said that preference for jobs is given to returning employees. Some employees are kept in seasonal positions to help out when the bookstore gets busy.

Though minimum wage was increased, there has not been an impact on jobs at the campus bookstore, McQueen said.

McQueen also said the Bookstore only hires students part-time.

“I am always happy to have students because it’s students serving students,” she said.

Funding for many jobs comes from grants given to the University by the U.S. Department of Education. Students are awarded this money through financial aid by working at the University.

Sandy Lovins, associate vice president of Human Resources, said she does not feel that the minimum wage increase is going to have an impact on the number of jobs available to students.

“When the economy really started to spiral downward, the University went through hiring freezes, meaning that we took a hard look at every opportunity because from a budget perspective that made sense,” she said.

Some students working on campus have not felt any impact from the minimum wage increase.

“I don’t think that it’s a very significant increase, so you probably won’t see a drastic difference,” said Carlos Wilson, a senior majoring in marketing. “It’s always good when things progress and we take it for what it is and appreciate it.”

Wilson has been working at the bookstore for about a year and seen the effects of the minimum wage increase from last year.

“You don’t really notice a huge difference in your paycheck,” Wilson said. “It’s like every now and then you find yourself with an extra five or 10 dollars, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not a huge increase in what you make.”

Sabrina Fierro, a senior majoring in American Sign Language, said she is glad she gets more money, but it’s not enough when looking at the overall picture.

“I think we do need to get paid more,” she said. “I don’t think that it is enough because of how much things cost, and because the economy is so bad.”

Fierro, who has two jobs, said that she is glad the minimum wage went up.

“It’s hard with the economy being down,” she said. “I’m just grateful to have a job.”