Connecticut’s Wage Law Keeps Teens Out Of Work

Teens will have a tough time finding a job this summer, and one often overlooked reason is wage mandates that create a barrier between teens who want to work, and employers who want to hire. (“Finding summer jobs is a chore,” May 30.)

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. And states such as Connecticut mandate wage rates even higher than the federal rates.

Minimum wages raise the cost of hiring and training entry-level employees such as teens. Employers respond by cutting staff hours or positions and, over time, are forced to replace full-service positions with self-service and automated.

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.

Michael Saltsman Washington, D.C.
Editor’s note: The writer is a research fellow at the Employment Policies Institute.