African American Teen Unemployment More Than Six Times the National Rate

Mandated Minimum Wage Hikes Will Exacerbate Problem
  • Publication Date: May 2006

  • Topics: Minimum Wage

Washington DC – While 138,000 new jobs were created in April and overall unemployment remains steady at 4.7%, the unemployment rate among African American teens remains shockingly high at 29.5%, according to the Labor Department’s April jobs report.

While overall teenage unemployment continues to hover around 12%, African American teen unemployment remains more than six times the national rate. This translates into approximately 262,000 African American teenagers actively seeking employment who are finding it difficult to secure a job.

Though the overall economy shows signs of improving, this bleak employment outlook for young African Americans threatens to become much worse as states across the nation consider mandated minimum wage hikes.

Decades of economic research conclude that mandated wage hikes eliminate entry-level jobs, putting particular pressure on minorities and the low-skilled. A Cornell University study found that black young adults typically bear almost four times the employment loss of their non-black counterparts after a minimum wage increase. Specifically, they found that a 10% increase in the minimum wage will result in an 8.5% decrease in employment for black young adults and teenagers.

“The truth of the matter is that minimum wage hikes make it more difficult for young adults to get their foot in the door and start acquiring the skills they need to get ahead in life,” said Michael Flynn, Director of Legislative Affairs for the Employment Policies Institute. “Policymakers must focus on the conditions of the nation’s least skilled employees—those who will actually be affected by an increase. The most recent data from the Labor Department shows that these individuals are simply not enjoying the gains of the recent positive employment news.”, 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.