Wage Mandates Trim Teens’ Jobs

Posted on June 19, 2010

Teens are having a tough time finding a job this summer (“Teens jockeying for summer jobs,” June 12), and one often-overlooked reason is that wage mandates 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 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 and are forced to turn to more cost-effective alternatives like automation and self-service.

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. Teens without job opportunities are also 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, D.C.