High Wage Hurts Teens

Our country’s continued high unemployment rate among teenagers predicts consequences that stretch far beyond the pocketbooks of America’s youth (Erie Times-News, April 21).

Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that our country’s teen unemployment rate increased to 26.1 percent in March.

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 hikes like this decrease the number of jobs for entry-level employees.

Michael Saltsman
Employment Policies Institute
Washington, D.C.