South Dakota small business owners react to teen wage

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SIOUX FALLS - They say you can't get a job without experience, and you can't get experience without a job.

One local business owner says South Dakota's new teen minimum wage allows her to give more inexperienced teens their first paycheck.

B & G Milky Way serves up more than ice cream, for these teen workers, it's also serves as a way to make some extra cash.

B & G Milky Way worker Grace Wetrich said "I started here when I was 14, and now I'm 16, and it's a lot easier, and it's a great first job experience."

According to a new South Dakota law, businesses may pay teenagers like Grace Wetrich, a lower teen minimum wage.

B & G Milky Way franchise owner DiAnn Burwell said "I'm here from open to close, every day, making sure the stores run right. I do my own accounting, I do my own ordering, I do my scheduling,Ii do everything. If I could afford to have somebody do that for me, I would, so $8.50 an hour scared me to death."

Dropping the minimum wage for teens under 18 a dollar, from $8.50 to $7.50 an hour, may help some small business owners like Burwell.

"Ii gave a big sigh, it eased the pressure off me somewhat," Burwell said.

It could also help DiAnn give more teens a chance to earn their first paycheck.

"Fourteen-year-olds definitely benefit from this, because it gives them more of an opportunity to get into the work field, and learn work ethics," Burwell said.

"I feel a lot more responsibility, like I had to be able to be trustworthy with my money, and spend it in a good way. It really helps you learn on what you should do with it, save it for college or just spend it your own way," Wetrich said.

"The majority of the kids that I have are 14, I do have some, bless their hearts, the ones who have stayed with me, they're going to college, they'll come back. Do they make more than minimum wage, yeah, I treat my employees very well, I give raises upon performances," Burwell said.

It's why Grace isn't too concerned about the minimum teen wage.

"I'm just glad that I actually have a job at 16, because it was kind of rare at 14 to get it, so I was really thankful to Di," Wetrich said.

Governor Daugaard signed the teen minimum wage bill into law on Friday.

Burwell said the lower teen wage allows her to take a chance on hiring younger and more inexperienced teens.