With First Day of Summer Approaching, New Analysis Finds Teen Unemployment Still Above 25% in 18 States and DC

Minimum Wage Proposals at State & Federal Level Would Worsen Job Outlook
  • Publication Date: June 2012

  • Topics: Minimum Wage, Teen Unemployment

Washington, DC – Today, the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) released an original analysis of the latest Census Bureau data which finds that, despite modest improvements, teen unemployment is still averaging above 25 percent in 18 states and the District of Columbia. Teen unemployment is currently 24.6 percent nationally, and has been above 20 percent for 43 months.

A 50-state breakdown is available at www.minimumwage.com/in-your-state/

“The first day of summer is almost here, but there’s still no guarantee of a summer job for the nation’s teens,” said Michael Saltsman, research fellow at EPI. “Policymakers should be cautious of passing new legislation, such as misguided minimum wage hikes, that makes it even more difficult for vulnerable teens to find a job.”

Six states—Rhode Island, Michigan, Massachusetts, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York—are actively considering an increase in the minimum wage, and two proposals were recently introduced on the federal level. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) have introduced proposals to raise the federal minimum wage to approximately $10 an hour.

Economists at Miami and Trinity University found that over 114,000 fewer teens had jobs following the last federal minimum wage increase between 2007 and 2009. And new research appearing in Cornell University’s labor economics journal finds that employment for less-educated young adults fell by over 20 percent after the last legislated wage hike in New York State.

“Teens get more than a paycheck at a summer job—they pick up the skills needed to succeed later in life,” Saltsman continued. “Research shows that missing out on job experience now can have a lasting effect on earnings and employability.”

Saltsman concluded: “As we head in to the summer of 2012, states should avoid building more barriers between young adults and this invaluable experience.”