Summer Job Drop: African American Teens Suffer as Unemployment Jumps

Low-skilled Labor Forced Out of Job Market
  • Publication Date: July 2007

  • Topics: Minimum Wage

WASHINGTON – In June, African American teen unemployment grew to seven times the national rate, according to the U.S. Labor Department’s monthly jobs report. The Employment Policies Institute (EPI) warned that mandated wage hikes will only worsen this trend.

White teen unemployment is at its highest in two years, according to the Labor Department’s statistics. While overall unemployment held steady at 4.5%, teen unemployment made a significant jump, rising steadily to 15.8%, its highest since September. Most significant, however, is that African American teen unemployment has jumped up to 31.2%.

Decades of economic research demonstrate that mandated wage hikes eliminate entry-level jobs, putting particular pressure on minorities and the low-skilled. A study from Cornell University shows that young African Americans typically bear almost four times the employment loss of their non-black counterparts after a minimum wage increase. Specifically, every 10% increase in the minimum wage results in a 8.5% decrease in employment for young black adults and teenagers. Research from Dr. David Neumark of the University of California, Irvine supports these results.

“If teens are having trouble finding summer jobs now, it will only get worse, thanks to recent minimum wage hikes,” said Dr. Jill Jenkins, chief economist for the Employment Policies Institute. “Wage hikes don’t help those in need. They force businesses to cut jobs and scheduled hours, which could turn a summer break into summer employment heartbreak.”, 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.