Minimum Wage Punishes Teens

Posted on September 20, 2010

In her Sept. 13 letter “Strong minimum wage good for state,” Michelle Young, president of Action Now, argues that increases in the minimum wage have been a boon to Illinois’ labor market. Standing opposite Ms. Young in this debate are economists David Neumark and William Wascher, of the University of California-Irvine and Federal Reserve Board, with their exhaustive summary of 20 years of minimum wage research: “(T)he preponderance of evidence supports the view that minimum wages reduce the employment of low-wage workers.”

Even the research on consumer spending that Ms. Young selectively cites acknowledges that “there is particularly compelling evidence of disemployment” (for teens) following an increase in the minimum wage. After decades of empirical research, economists understand that minimum wage increases aren’t much good at reducing poverty, but they’re very good at keeping less-skilled teens out of a job.