Minimum Wage Hurts Teens

The article “Teen unemployment high, but some see hope for summer jobs,” talks about the tough summer job market for teens, but unmentioned are laws that have created a barrier between those teens who want to work and employers who want to hire.

Between July 2007 and July 2009, Congress increased the federal minimum wage 40 percent. Recent research from Ball State University attributes the loss of 310,000 teenage part-time jobs to this wage hike. Minimum wages raise the cost of hiring and training entry-level employees like teens. Employers respond by cutting staff hours or positions entirely. Over time, many of these entry-level positions may disappear for good, as employers are forced to replace “full-service” with “self-service.”

Teens without job opportunities 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 they’re also more likely to drop out of high school or get tangled up in the criminal justice system.

Michael Saltsman, Employment Policies Institute, Washington, DC