No jobs for teens? Thank the minimum wage

Posted on May 20, 2009

To the editor:

The Review-Journal’s Monday article about the tough job market for teens neglected to mention a key factor in this ever-growing crisis (“Valley teens competing with older people for summer work”). Teens in the job hunt will continue to find the search difficult as long as policymakers continue to increase labor costs on small businesses through minimum wage mandates.

Research from the University of Georgia in 2006 found that every 10 percent increase in the minimum wage was associated with a 4.6 to 9 percent decline in teenage employment in small businesses. If historical and economic evidence are any guide, the number of jobless teens will continue to rise as we approach yet another minimum wage hike in July.

When entry-level job hunters are not able to find work, they lose more than just a paycheck. They are denied the “invisible curriculum” that comes with having a first job, including important skills like reporting to a supervisor, meeting deadlines and learning teamwork skills with co-workers. Unfortunately, the unintended consequences of minimum wage hikes will deny Nevada teens that opportunity this summer.

Kristen Lopez Eastlick
WASHINGTON, D.C.

THE WRITER IS A SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST WITH THE EMPLOYMENT POLICIES INSTITUTE.