Another Bummer Summer: New Data Show 4th Summer of High Teen Unemployment

Research Shows Proposals to Raise Federal Minimum Wage to $9.80 Would Worsen Situation
  • Publication Date: August 2012

  • Topics: Teen Unemployment

WASHINGTON – Following a new report on summer employment from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) released an analysis of Census Bureau data which finds that teen unemployment remained above 25 percent in 19 states and the District of Columbia through the summer of 2012. Nationally, the teen unemployment rate is 23.8 percent and has been above 20 percent for 45 months.

“The nation’s teens have suffered through a fourth summer of difficult job prospects,” said Michael Saltsman, research fellow at EPI. “As a result, thousands are going back to school having missed out on the valuable career experience that comes from an entry-level job.”

Economists have shown that the value of a summer job goes beyond a paycheck. Research published in the Journal of Labor Economics found that high-school seniors that worked part-time had a greater likelihood of higher wages and better benefits in future employment, as compared to their classmates that didn’t have a job.

Several proposals are currently pending before Congress that would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.80 per hour. Economists at Miami and Trinity Universities found that over 114,000 fewer teens had jobs following the last federal minimum wage increase between 2007 and 2009. A new EPI analysis estimates that an increase in the federal minimum wage to $9.80 could eliminate as many as 768,000 jobs.

“If policymakers want to avoid a perpetual summer employment crisis for young adults, they should reject policies that destroy job opportunities,” Saltsman concluded: “It would be tragic if valuable entry-level experience was eliminated as a result of election-year political posturing.”

A 50-state employment breakdown is available: For other state-specific statistics or to schedule an interview, please contact EPI.