Following Federal Minimum Wage Hike, Unemployment Rises Among Least Educated Americans

  • Publication Date: October 2007

  • Topics: Minimum Wage

WASHINGTON — Following the first federal minimum wage hike in nearly a decade, the U.S. Labor Department reported an increase in overall unemployment in September, with the most significant increase occurring among the least educated Americans. And as the overall labor market participation rate rose, vulnerable groups like African-American teens and high school dropouts saw their participation rates decrease.
“Politicians continue to ignore the overwhelming evidence that minimum wage hikes increase unemployment among economically vulnerable groups like high school dropouts and African American teens,” said Dr. Jill Jenkins, Chief Economist at the Employment Policies Institute. “Mandated wage hikes price many low-skilled Americans out of the job market. As last month’s figures show, many have just stopped looking for employment.”
High school dropouts saw a sharp increase in unemployment, up 10 percent from August. Their unemployment rate is up 1 percentage point from last year at this time and is over one and a half times the national average.
Overall labor market participation increased 2 tenths of a percentage point in September. But among African American teens and high school dropouts, participation rates declined by 1 tenth and 2 tenths, respectively.
Two prominent advocates for the increase in the federal minimum wage, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert and Economic Policy Institute economist Jared Bernstein, have both recently admitted that declining employment among low-skilled Americans can be explained in part by diminished employment opportunities., a website focusing on the crisis in entry-level employment, provides regularly updated statistics detailing the employment market for entry-level employees and vital information about a host of government assistance programs designed to promote employment and economic success.
The Employment Policies Institute is a nonprofit research organization dedicated to studying public policy issues surrounding entry-level employment. For additional information or to schedule an interview with a spokesperson call Tim Miller at 202.463.7650.