Unemployed Teens Lose Valuable ‘Invisible Curriculum’

David Garrison’s business column, (Gazette, March 14) titled “Examining minimum wage and unemployment,” accurately notes the troubles teenagers are facing in today’s job market.
Unfortunately, the consequences of these continued high unemployment rates stretch far beyond the pocketbooks of America’s youth.

Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that our teen unemployment rate has soared to 26.4 percent, an increase of 26 percent from January 2009 to January 2010.

These unemployed teens are deprived of the valuable “invisible curriculum” that comes from reporting to a supervisor, showing up on time and working with others as part of a team. Research from Northeastern University found that teens without job opportunities — especially economically disadvantaged teens — are also more likely to drop out of high school or get tangled up in the criminal justice system.

A high minimum wage environment — like that created by the 40 percent increase in the federal minimum wage between July 2007 and July 2009 — has contributed to this teen unemployment crisis. A survey of labor economists by the University of New Hampshire found 73 percent in agreement that wage increases like this decrease the number of jobs for entry-level employees.

Michael Saltsman
Research Fellow
Employment Policies Institute