New EPI Analysis Reveals Recession, Wage Mandates Combine to Nearly Triple Long-Term Teen Unemployment

BLS Numbers Show More Teens Spending Over Six Months Searching For Entry-Level Work
  • Publication Date: April 2010

  • Topics: Minimum Wage, Teen Unemployment

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data by the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) found a dramatic 174 percent increase in the percentage of unemployed teens spending 6 months or more looking for work. Economists blame the dire entry level job market on a combination of factors: the worst recession since the Great Depression and a series of ill-timed, government mandated wage hikes.

As of March 2010, 30 percent of all unemployed teens had spent 6 months or more searching for a job. In March 2007, only 11 percent of unemployed teens had spent that long looking for work. The full analysis is available here.

“These numbers show that hundreds of thousands of teens are going to spend another summer out of work,” said Michael Saltsman, research fellow at EPI. “The recession, combined with state and federal minimum wage increases, has created a toxic environment for young Americans searching for a summer job.”

Minimum wage hikes raise the cost of hiring and training entry-level employees. In response, employers will either slash the number of low-wage jobs they offer, hire applicants with higher skill levels, or move to more self-service systems.

The job-killing effects of minimum wage hikes are well-documented in economic literature. Most recently, research from Ball State University attributed the loss of 310,000 teenage jobs to the 40 percent minimum wage increase that occurred between July 2007 and July 2009.

“Politicians chose to ignore economists’ warnings that raising the minimum wage will result in job loss for teens—especially during a recession,” Saltsman concluded. “As a result, a whole generation of teenagers is missing out the critical skills learned in a first job.”