entry-level workers

Current Job Market for Teens is the Toughest on Record

Thomas Sowell used his latest piece to address a common misconception regarding the left’s avowed concern for minorities. In his column, the renowned economist pointed out that the educational policies pursued by the left in the name of the poor and the minorities often hurt those they claim to protect.

The same can be said about other policies pursued by Democrats who tend to defend that more interventionism will undoubtedly lead to more opportunities for the poor, the young and the minorities.

According to a Brookings Institute study, teens have been having a harder time finding jobs in recent years. In 2000, research shows that 45% of teens in the U.S. had jobs, now only 26% of teens aged 16 to 19 are employed.

Researchers used Department of Labor and Census data to track youth employment among the 100 largest metro areas in the country. The study shows that 1.8 million teens are either actively looking for a job but are unable to get one or they have part-time jobs, whereas they’d prefer to obtain full-time employment instead. The study refers to this pattern as “underutilization,” which means that teens are not satisfied or financially stable to focus solely on school.

In other words, more teens need to work but are unable to find work.

Economists speak out against minimum wage increase

More than 500 economists, including three Nobel laureates, have signed a letter warning lawmakers of the “serious consequences” of raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, a policy being pushed by President Barack Obama and most congressional Democrats.

“One of the serious consequences of raising the minimum wage is that business owners saddled with a higher cost of labor will need to cut costs, or pass the increase to their consumers in order to make ends meet,” the letter states (PDF). “Many of the businesses that pay their workers minimum wage operate on extremely tight profit margins, with any increase in the cost of labor threatening this delicate balance.”

The economists point to the recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the $10.10 minimum wage proposal. The CBO estimated that such a significant increase in the minimum wage would cost the economy 500,000 jobs, perhaps as many as 1 million, over the next two years. “Many of these jobs,” the letter notes, “are held by entry-level workers with limited experience or vocational skills, the very employees meant to be helped.”

The economists explain that the minimum wage is “a poorly targeted anti-poverty measure,” noting that [e]xtra earnings generated by such an increase in the minimum wage would not substantially help the poor,” again pointing to the findings of the CBO report.

Leftists in Congress want a $10.10 minimum wage

During his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour. Not to be out done, however, leftists in Washington have introduced legislation to raise the minimum wage to $10.10:

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) argues President Obama “missed the mark” in calling to raise the minimum wage to $9 in his State of the Union address, and his staff met with White House staff last week to argue for a higher number.

The veteran senator, who will retire at the end of this Congress, is working with Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) on legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 over three years and then index future increases to inflation.

“Well, we’re going to introduce our own bill on it,” Harkin told The Hill on Tuesday. “I’m going to be in discussions with them because I think they missed the mark, but people make mistakes.”

While this proposal may make some people feel warm and fuzzy, it comes with real world consequences for those who it’s intended to help, including teens, entry-level, and unskilled workers. Veronique de Rugy recently pointed to a couple of different studies showing that the minimum wage the various effects the policy has on these workers. According to a study by three economists — David Neumark, William Wascher, and Mark Schweitzer — the minimum wage actually has the adverse effect of increasing poverty.


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