What happened to the middle-class jobs?
The government has taken them away with taxation and regulation.
The following are the hoops that I, as an employer, must jump through to hire someone.
1) I have to document that an applicant has the right to be in and work in America.
2) I have to notify the government that I have hired an employee.
3) Taxes and fees:
• I have to match federal payroll taxes (Social Security and Medicare).
• I have to pay 10.86 percent of wages for unemployment insurance.
• I have to pay 3 percent to 12 percent of wages for workers’ compensation insurance. (If an employee washes a truck, then mows a lawn, then shovels rock, I have to track and report and pay the premiums for each kind of work, as each is charged at different rates.)
• I have to make sure all taxes are collected at the current rates from the employee, then fill out forms and send the money to the respective governmental agencies. (Our last payroll cost my company $45,000. Of that, employees received $28,000.)
4) I have to inform employees how to obtain health insurance.
5) I have to take court-ordered child support out of paychecks and send it to the correct agency.
6) I have to send drivers to the doctor for a Department of Transportation physical.
7) I have to maintain a legal employee handbook stating obvious rules of employment.
8) I must track hours because I cannot afford to pay overtime. Employees cannot work more than 40 hours even if they want to. Employees, it seems, are too dumb to know what’s good for them or to make decisions about how much they want to work. The government must protect them.
9) I have to file quarterly employment reports with both the state and federal governments.
10) I have to send out W-2s to employees.
11) I have to post employment practices posters for all to see. (The last set cost $275.)
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What else must I do to operate this business?
1) I am expected to know and follow all OSHA safety and health regulation standards.
2) I must collect, report and pay six different sales and use taxes, for the different jurisdictions within which we operate.
3) I must track every dollar earned and spent and prove it to the government. Then I must pay an accountant thousands of dollars just to tell me how much I have to pay the government.
4) I must know and follow all Transportation Department regulations, and keep aware of the constant changes.
5) I have to track every gallon of fuel used and file fuel usage forms with both the state and federal governments.
6) I have to pay real-estate tax. (My rate for industrial property is 4.5 percent of the value of the property per year.)
7) I have to file to keep my business name.
8) I have to pass fire code inspections.
9) I have to pay attorneys tens of thousands of dollars every year because I will be sued several times each year without justification.
10) I have to listen as I am demonized by politicians for my success and have the fruits of my labor taken from me.
• • •
This is a list off the top of my head. All of that just to mow some lawns and shovel some snow.
You want to know where the middle-class jobs went? I could pay my employees twice what they make if not for all the government. I could grow my business and offer better value to my customers and better careers to my employees if I could spend my time focused on my mowing and plowing business instead of governmental compliance.
I ask myself daily: Why am I doing this with my life? How many other entrepreneurs have stayed on the sidelines or have given up because instead of doing what they love, they must spend most of their time doing what they hate — what the government mandates?
John Kalan owns a landscaping and snow removal business in Spring Lake Park.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.