Increased Minimum Wage Hurts Teens, Business

Posted on May 14, 2010

Teens will have a tough time finding a job this summer (“Summer jobs prospects bleak for youths,” Nation, Wednesday) and one often-overlooked reason is wage mandates that create a barrier between teens who want to work and employers who want to hire.

Between July 2007 and July 2009, Congress increased the federal minimum wage by 40 percent. Recent research by Ball State University attributes the loss of 310,000 teenage part-time jobs to this wage hike. Because minimum wages raise the cost to hire and train entry-level employees – like teens – employers are forced to cut staff hours or positions. Major newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune and the Detroit News, have recognized this and have suggested a lower wage for teens to encourage businesses to hire them this summer.

The consequences of inaction are serious. Research from Northeastern University found that teens without job opportunities – especially economically- disadvantaged teens – are more likely to drop out of high school or get tangled up in the criminal justice system.

MICHAEL SALTSMAN
Research Fellow, Employment Policies Institute
Washington