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White House interns will now be paid for the first time

Yahoo Finance's Marquise Francis joins the Live show to report that the White House will pay its interns for the first time in history.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

AKIKO FUJITA: Well, at the start of summer, it means the start of new internships. So White House interns will now be paid this summer for the first time ever. Let's bring in Yahoo News reporter Marquise Francis, who's following that story for us. How much are they getting paid?

MARQUISE FRANCIS: Well, they're going to be getting $750 weekly on a 14-week internship. But this is really remarkable. This is the first time ever. Past administrations have been criticized for pushing-- to push forward the minimum wage, but yet they weren't paying interns, which is pretty wild. And even as far as up to 2017, upwards of 11,000 interns in Congress were not getting paid. And so, this is not only going to help people have money in their pocket, but it's also going to change the makeup of who's able to intern.

I can only imagine-- think back to when I was an intern. I was not able to have an unpaid internship during the summer. My mom said I ate too much, so I needed to get some money. And so this is really going to be a game changer. I think we see ad nauseum, we complain about, why is there no diversity in this Capitol Hill photo? But, you know, so only certain socioeconomic backgrounds can afford to not be paid.

And so I talked to economists across the zeitgeist. I talked to a woman, Sunny Holmes, Spelman economics professor. And she said this really is President Biden finally answering the labor market. And we're seeing what's happening out in the market. And so this is a real, real big deal.

BRIAN CHEUNG: I mean, it's so important because living costs, specifically in Washington, DC, are so high. And it does remain the case that it's only people who have historically had wealth, which is often associated with certain types of backgrounds, that could afford to do that internship. So when you talk about the White House specifically, though, why is that important? Because is the White House a feeder into other types of jobs on Capitol Hill? Like, who's the demographic that you would expect to benefit from this new program?

MARQUISE FRANCIS: Absolutely. I mean, there's folks like you and I who would benefit from this program, folks who may not have been born into a lot of wealth or even just privilege. And so, when you speak about different economic backgrounds, different socioeconomic cultures, Black, Brown, Latino, Asian-Americans are going to be able to benefit just because we started from behind in this country historically. And so we're going to be able to push forward.

And when you think about some of the names of some of those notable alumni who were White House interns, you think of Julian Castro, the former HUD under President Obama, the youngest member of his cabinet, and then also Huma Abedin, longtime Hillary Clinton aide, and also even Neil Cavuto, a Fox News host. And so, these are the types of names that are coming out of this. And you can only imagine more names coming out moving forward.

AKIKO FUJITA: I'm curious, moving away from the White House, what percentage of internships are still not paid, you know?

MARQUISE FRANCIS: That's a good quesiton.

AKIKO FUJITA: Because I think, to your point, there's increasing awareness around it. There was an expectation for a very long time that this is just about gaining experience. But that does shut a lot of people out if it's an unpaid internship.

MARQUISE FRANCIS: Absolutely. Actually, the National Association for Colleges and Employers in 2021 found that actually 40% of internships are still unpaid. And even, Brian, going back to your point, this is not only just for DC and the White House. You can only imagine the domino effect that this is going to have, internships across the country. I mean, you and I were in the same internship--

BRIAN CHEUNG: We were, same program.

MARQUISE FRANCIS: --program going years back.

AKIKO FUJITA: Did you get paid?

MARQUISE FRANCIS: Emma Bowen Foundation.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Yeah, $10 an hour.

MARQUISE FRANCIS: And at the time, most internships weren't paid. And so this was a real game changer, helping Brian and I and others around the country get internships in the media field. And it's really paid off.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Yeah, Emma Bowen Foundation for Minority Interests for those interested. Check it out. But Marquise Francis, Yahoo News, thanks so much for stopping by. Appreciate it, man.

MARQUISE FRANCIS: Thank you.