New Analysis: Teen Unemployment in Georgia Averaged 36.3 Percent in 2010

Highest in the Nation, Georgia's Teen Unemployment Rate Up from 29 Percent in 2009
  • Publication Date: January 2011

  • Topics: Teen Unemployment

A preliminary analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) shows that teen unemployment averaged 36.3 percent in Georgia in 2010. That’s the highest in the country, and up from 29 percent in 2009.

In states like Georgia, teens contended with extra barriers to employment because of a 40 percent increase in the federal minimum wage between 2007 and 2009.

“Last year, more than one in three Georgia teens were looking for work without success,” said Michael Saltsman, research fellow at EPI. “This tough job market isn’t just a product of the recession; minimum wage mandates are keeping teens out of work.”

By increasing labor costs, higher minimum wages force employers to raise prices or cut costs. With consumers unwilling to pay higher prices, employers cut back on customer service or move towards automation– meaning fewer hours and fewer opportunities for entry-level employees like teens.

Recent research from economists David Macpherson (Trinity University) and William Even (Miami University) shows that the federal wage increase was particularly harmful for Georgia. Nearly 10,000 fewer teens were employed as a direct result of the federal wage mandate.

Saltsman concluded, “It’s a new year, and with summer not so far off, Georgia legislators should focus on policies that create jobs for teens—not destroy them.”