Friday, June 12, 2009

Double Digit Unemployment?

It could be coming:
Despite severe economic difficulties confronting businesses, and soaring unemployment among youths and minorities, the federal minimum wage is slated to increase to $7.25 in July from $6.55 today. This will be the final step of a three-step increase enacted in the spring 2007, when the unemployment rate was 4.5%.

Based on 20 years of research, I doubt there is ever a goodtime to raise the minimum wage. However, with the aggregate unemployment rate at 9.4%, the teen unemployment rate exceeding 22%, and the unemployment rate for black teens nearing 40%, next month's increase seems like the worst timing possible.

Despite a few exceptions that are tirelessly (and selectively) cited by advocates of a higher minimum wage, the bulk of the evidence -- from scores of studies, using data mainly from the U.S. but also from many other countries -- clearly shows that minimum wages reduceemployment of young, low-skilled people. The best estimates from studies since the early 1990s suggest that the 11% minimum wage increase scheduled for this summer will lead to the loss of an additional 300,000 jobs among teens and young adults. This is on top of the continuing job losses the recession is likely to throw our way.
Low-skilled workers will be hit hardest and when you are talking about teenagers, you end up with a situation where they are not working, not gaining the necessary skills to advance themselves and then have a hopeless situation where they need skills, need jobs, but the cost of those jobs to employers means the employers don't take the chance on young workers and the cycle continues.

1 comment:

Vanessa said...

Speaking of the employment situation, Junior Achievement just put out a new report about how the country needs a more "Entrepreneurial Workforce" to remain competitive. It's kind of a different way of looking at the problem. Here's the link http://www.ja.org/files/The_Entrepreneurial_Workforce_full-11.pdf.