New Analysis Warns of Dismal Employment Prospects for Teens This Summer

31 States and District of Columbia Still Have Jobless Rates Above 20 Percent
  • Publication Date: March 2012

  • Topics: Teen Unemployment

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) released a new analysis of Census Bureau data which shows that teen unemployment is still averaging above 20 percent in 31 states and the District of Columbia. This follows last Friday’s employment report showing that national teen unemployment rose last month to 23.8 percent.
Teen unemployment has now been above 20 percent nationwide for 40 months—the first time since the Bureau started tracking these numbers in 1948.

“Though the labor market overall appears to be recovering, the situation remains bleak for young adults as we approach summer,” said Michael Saltsman, research fellow at EPI. “Not only are teens facing more competition for entry-level jobs—minimum wage mandates at the state and federal level are making it more difficult for them to find work.”

Eight states raised their minimum wage at the start of the year, and now fifteen additional states are considering legislation to further increase wage rates.

Decades of economic research confirm that mandated labor cost increases reduce hours and employment for the least-skilled and least-experienced. Research from Miami University and Trinity University finds that the burden falls hardest on young black males: Each 10 percent increase in the minimum wage reduces their employment by over 6 percent.

“Unemployed teens are missing out on more than a paycheck—they’re missing out on the life skills needed to advance in the workforce,” Saltsman continued. “State legislators would be wise to avoid misguided wage mandates that threaten to make this another difficult summer for young people.”

Up-to-date unemployment rates for all states are available at a new website launching today, The site allows users to compare teen unemployment rates among the fifty states. It also provides facts about the impact of the minimum wage, as well as answers to common myths. A research section features the latest EPI studies on the impact minimum wage increases have on employees, employers, and the economy.

Ranking State Name Unemployment Rate
** Washington D.C. 48.0%
1 California 35.2%
2 Nevada 32.1%
3 Idaho 30.5%
4 Missouri 30.4%
5 North Carolina 29.8%
6 Washington 29.1%
7 Rhode Island 29.0%
8 Florida 28.9%
9 Tennessee 28.5%
10 Oregon 28.5%
11 Georgia 27.9%
12 Colorado 27.0%
12 Kentucky 27.0%
14 South Carolina 26.9%
15 West Virginia 26.8%
16 Louisiana 26.5%
17 New York 25.9%
18 Texas 25.6%
19 Arizona 24.9%
20 Illinois 24.6%
21 New Jersey 24.1%
22 Michigan 23.5%
23 Mississippi 23.1%
24 New Mexico 22.3%
25 Connecticut 22.0%
26 Arkansas 21.7%
27 Alaska 21.6%
28 Indiana 21.4%
29 Hawaii 21.1%
30 Maine 20.2%
31 Vermont 20.1%