New Unemployment Numbers Show Increase Among Teens

Vulnerable Groups Hit Hard by Federal Minimum Wage Hike
  • Publication Date: December 2007

  • Topics: Minimum Wage, Teen Unemployment

WASHINGTON – While nearly 100,000 new jobs were created in November and overall unemployment remained constant at 4.7%, there was a marked increase in unemployment among teenagers. The news was particularly bleak for African American teens. Their unemployment rate rose to 29.5%, over 6 times higher than the national rate.

When compared to this time last year, the trend is unmistakable. The unemployment rates for teens and white teens are at a 12 month high. The rate for African American teens has risen nearly two percentage points since this time last year.

This bleak employment outlook for vulnerable members of the workforce comes on the heels of a federal minimum wage hike. Decades of economic research show that mandated wage hikes eliminate entry-level jobs, putting particular pressure on young minorities and the least educated. A Cornell University study found that black young adults typically bear almost 4 times the employment loss of their non-black counterparts after a minimum wage increase. Specifically, they found that a 10% increase in the minimum wage will result in an 8.5% decrease in employment for black young adults and teenagers.

“Unemployment is a big problem for these vulnerable members of the workforce, yet many legislators continue to support mandated wages that exacerbate the problem,” said Dr. Jill Jenkins, Chief Economist for the Employment Policies Institute. “It is important to promote policies that create entry level employment so teens can learn the skills necessary to advance in the workforce.”