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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Teen Employment

Not to harp on the ill-effects of minimum wage, but it's all related...

The Boston Globe just published an article covering the fact that "Teen employment falls to 45-year low".
"Just 27 percent of teens held jobs last year, half the rate of decade ago when 54 percent found work, according to the report by the Youth Jobs Coalition, which represents more than 20 nonprofits that work with teens. That’s the lowest rate of employment for 16- to 19-year-olds in Massachusetts since 1968, when the Census Bureau began collecting such data.

The Massachusetts teen employment rate ranked 31st among states; even Michigan, one of the states hit hardest by the recession and joblessness, had a higher teen employment rate at 31 percent. “We are no longer a national leader in putting young adults to work,” the report said."
This is especially surprising given the fact that the Massachusetts economy is recovering fairly well and we are among the better performing states in the nation. (And to reward our hard work, Gov. Deval Patrick wants to give us all a nice big tax increase! but that's another issue).

Side note: Don't even get me started on this...
"The coalition also cited St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Boston, which was bought by the for-profit Steward Health Care in 2010, saying the hospital significantly reduced the number of teens it hired through the Private Industry Council in recent years.

Hospital spokesman Chris Murphy said the reduction was due to a new program designed to give jobs to the teenage children of hospital union members.
Cronyism and nepotism working hand-in-hand! (Another issue to discuss).

Of course, the current status of the economy does not help and is likely a major factor, but a lower minimum wage would certainly enable businesses to hire more workers..
"Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, blamed the state’s high minimum wage of $8 an hour, saying retailers would be more willing to hire teens if it was lower. Unlike some states, Massachusetts does not have a “teen wage” that is lower than the minimum wage, he said."
One piece of data I do not have is the teen employment rates of every other state. (Anyone want to find this for me?)
It would be interesting to compare Minimum Wage with Teen Employment Rates and rank them by state.

As was stated in the Globe article, Massachusetts ranks 31st for teen employment and, as can be seen in the chart below, has one of the highest minimum wages in the nation. (Tied for 8th with CA, including DC, by my count).

As I previously stated, minimum wage increases tend to hurt those most in need of minimum wage jobs. Included are low-skilled workers, part-time workers, and teens.
"Eighteen-year-old Princess Mansaray of Dorchester faces a similar situation. A junior at Charlestown High School, she has looked for an after-school job for nearly two years. While her academic record is impressive — Mansaray said she takes Advanced Placement classes and belongs to a debate league and Outward Bound — she cannot find a job to help pay for basics, such as clothing and toiletries, or contribute to the monthly rent."
What do you think, would Princess prefer a $5 or $6/hr job to help pay the bills or no job at all?

There are a lot of sources covering this topic, something that seems to come up year-after-year despite all the evidence refuting its "benefits".

A quick search yielded these:
New York Times: The Minimum Wage and Teenage Jobs (11/18/2009)
Wall Street Journal: The Lost Wages of Youth: Raising the minimum wage has put teens out of work (3/5/2010)
The Hill: Minimum wage myths that keep our teens out of work (07/20/2012)
Forbes: Obama's Minimum Wage Hike: A Case Of Zombie Economics (2/20/2013)

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