Teenagers Are Expensive

Re “Working class heroes” (News, March 25):

While the article covers teens’ struggles to enter the workforce, it’s important to recognize that these continued high unemployment rates have consequences that stretch far beyond the pocketbooks of America’s youth.

Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that in 2009, our teen unemployment rate averaged a high 24.3 percent. 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. And states like Nevada have mandated wage rates even higher than the federal level. A survey of labor economists by the University of New Hampshire found 73 percent in agreement that wage hikes like this decrease the number of jobs for entry level employees.

Michael Saltsman
Employment Policies Institute
Washington, D.C.