Minimum Wage Hurts Children

This is the time of year when youngsters across the country are getting out of school and hitting the pavement to look for summer jobs. The unfortunate reality of the current economic climate is that teenagers are having an extremely tough time. The unadjusted unemployment rate for 16 to 19 year olds in May was 26.8 percent, up from 12.6 percent a decade ago and 23.6 percent in May of last year, before the federal minimum wage increased to $7.25 per hour.

Minimum wage law "winds up doing more harm to those people it's intended to help, than it actually benefits them," said James Sherk, a senior policy analyst with The Heritage Foundation, in an interview with Charles Adler. "What happens when it becomes more expensive to hire workers? Well, employers, like everyone else, they hire fewer workers. And it means higher wages for some workers, but for other workers it means that they don't get a job in the first place."

Sherk recently took this message to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, declaring that "temporarily reducing the minimum wage to $5.15 an hour would spur hiring of unskilled youth."

The states seem to have their signals crossed, though. In Illinois, where minimum wage is going up to $8.25 per hour, the Republican candidate for governor has signaled his willingness to drop the rate to match the federal level.

Meanwhile, New York is considering moving in the opposite direction by mandating a living wage of $11.50 for jobs connected to any developments that receive subsidies or tax breaks from the city. 

In North Carolina, where the minimum wage has jumped $1.10 in the past year and a half, summer camps are being forced to layoff young counselors and cut back on field trips. This ends up hurting both college students and the children they are supposed to take care of. “It is harder when there are less counselors to get things done,” said college student and camp counselor Toni Watson in an interview with News 14 Carolina.

A 2007 study published in The Journal of Human Resources found that young people in jurisdictions with high minimum wages had worse outcomes later in life because they were less likely to get the training and experience they needed when they were young. You'd have to be completely heartless not to want kids to have the opportunity to get a good job when they grow up. Seriously people, think of the children!

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  • Liberal Ignoramus||

    Hey, if these companies want to stay in business then they have to pay their employees a reasonable living wage. It's as simple as that!

  • No Name Guy||

    And while we're at it, lets just raise the minimum up a bit more - say $20 an hour. And break a few windows to make some work for the un-broken-window-dudes. And outlaw heavy earth moving equipment, since there aren't enough construction jobs to go around.

  • ||

    Why are you so heartless? Raise the minimum wage to $200 an hour, and everyone (who can find a job) will be rich! RICH!

  • ||

    Wow that is way funny dude. But they gotta start somewhere right?

    Lou
    www.real-anonymity.se.tc

  • Greer||

    "temporarily reducing the minimum wage to $5.15 an hour would spur hiring of unskilled youth."

    Or how about reducing the minimum wage to $0.00 and removing the minimum age for employment. Right now, you can't get a job until at least 16 and in a lot of cases, 18.

    When I was about 14, I had a job working an hour a day cleaning up a a dry clearners, making a dollar a day. It gave me a little spending money, they were happy puting out $6.00 a week (against all employment rules, I worked 6 days a week) and it gave me a little bit of work experience and responsibility.

    My kids never even got a job when they were teenagers. They wanted one but there seemed to be too many barriers to getting one. Granted, they just didn't look hard enough or whatever, but it is not that easy now days.

  • Greer||

    Lest I paint my kids as deadbeats, they are both VERY productive members of society.

  • SIV||

    Because they avoided being pigeon-holed into no-skill entry-level minimum wage jobs :) j/k

  • Geezer||

    Dollar a day?!?!?!? You had it easy!

    When I was 14, I worked 16 hours a day cleaning up a slaughter house, making 35 cents a day. It gave me enough to see the moving pictures show, and I got to bring home the offal for my sister, who had polio.

    You kids with your "dollar a day" have it easy.

  • Greer||

    Well, when I say house, it was really just a box.... And we had to get up every morning and lick the street clean.

    Those were the days.

  • protagoras||

    Predictably, you don't mention the numerous studies which have found weak or even inverse correlations between minimum wage levels and unemployment. Economic theory is a wonderful thing, but the real world is also full of confounding factors, and in designing real world policy it's a good idea to take into account the confounding factors that are obviously there (as shown by the studies) even if you can't come up with a theory that explains where the confounding is coming from.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Yes. These studies . . . that you linked to . . . becuase dammit they confound the theory. Those damn studies . . .

  • ||

    You scoff, but I'm reading those studies right now. Price-fixing always works. . .Jesus, the data is incredible in its overwhelmingness!

  • ||

    Actually, the data is right her...LOOK OUT!!! BOTTLE KIDS!!!

    (smash)

  • ||

    See, Naga? Two people have verified the truthiness of these claims. What more do you need?

  • Naga Sadow||

    "Hey. Naga the Offender doesn't need YOU. Naga the Offender doesn't need ANYBODY?"

  • ||

    Predictably, you don't mention the numerous studies which have found weak or even inverse correlations between minimum wage levels and unemployment.

    You mean, the recent "study" where Congress raised the minimum wage, and unemployment shot up to around 10%?

    But, admittedly, that study didn't include a control group, so tell you what -- let's require half the states, chosen at random, to eliminate all minimum wage laws, and then see which group of states gets a burst of hiring.

    My money would be on the states prospering that did away with the minimum wage.

    You can bet on the other states.

  • mr simple||

    If you cannot provide links, could you at least name some of the researchers so I can find these studies?

  • Warty||

    Jesus, that is one ponderous blog.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    You mean like the 50 years of studies that found that Minimum Wage causes higher unemployment rates?

    These studies you mean?

  • ||

    Would you rather be pai $7 per hour for 35 hours per week or be paid $8 per hour for zero hours per week?*

    *Assuming no government support if you choose the latter (one of those confounded "confounding factors" you mention.)

  • ||

    Economic theory is a wonderful thing, but the real world is also full of confounding factors

    What part of the real world makes it any of your or the government's business what an employer and an employee mutually agree on in the way of compensation?

  • ||

    No doubt you're referring to all those studies cranked out by the economnic hacks at the Economic Policy Institute, funded mostly by the AFL-CIO and others on the loony left. Most real economists recognize the link between higher minimum wages and high levels of youth unemployment.

  • ||

    Why would we want our children to work for a wage that you could not "live" on? There are some jobs that were never meant to be primary lifetime employment; however, they did provide meaningful work that also provided a life lesson in how to obtain and hold a postion in an organization. At the same time, there was money to be made as a reward, money that could be spent in ways not always controlled by others. (Yes, some minimum wage jobs extracted Federal, State, FICA and other taxes as well. The real hoot was the minimum wage job I had that also allowed me to pay Union Dues to a thoroughly useless Bargaining Unit.)

    This taught lessons in interpersonal relationships, accountability, fiscal responsibility, and other skills that eventually led to a better paying job.

  • ||

    Liberals really know how to fuck poor kids. First they destroyed the schools they go to. Then they flooded their neighborhoods with welfare and helped kick the drug war into high gear. Then they passed child labor, minimum wage and mandatory school attendance laws to make sure they had absolutely no hope of escaping where they were.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    Your timeline needs a bit of work.

  • ||

    Perhaps, but all of his points are spot on.

  • ||

    I remember my first minimum wage ($4.25/hr) job. I worked 80 hours one pay period and got my paycheck. Then I worked 120 hours the following pay period and got a whopping $38 more than the previous one because of all the increased withholding. It was at that point I went from libertarianish to libertarian.

  • ||

    Mine was as a cook at $1.65/hr.

    There was the benefit of working with young waitresses. Yum!

  • kinnath||

    My first job was McDonald's in '73. I think the minimum was either $1.60 or $1.65.

    I've never had more mad money in my life as that first year of working as a 16-year-old living at home.

  • ||

    My first job was as a fast food restaurant mascot in a parade. Hot, sweaty, stumbling blind through the streets, trying to keep the head from falling off. I got paid $20.

  • Naga Sadow||

    It wasn't as a sasquatch, I hope. I'd hate for anyone to drive business to a Steve Smith venture.

  • ||

    Nope. I was Taco John.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Ouch. I have a sneaking suspicion that it did not drive the ladies wild knowing you were Taco John.

  • ||

    It was only the once. Just another in the long line of goofy and strange things I've done.

  • Naga Sadow||

    I would love to be the asshole who buys a woman a drink and then saddles up to her with the phrase, "You know, I used to be Taco John." Each to his own, I suppose.

  • T||

    Nothing stopping you, man. Wax eloquent about your time in the taco suit and see what it gets you.

  • ||

    This sounds exactly like your Saturday nights now, except you left out the Astroglide and cum stains. Are you sure you're not confused?

  • ||

    You could still get wet back then, you dried up old hag.

  • ||

    That's almost more disturbing than my first job: I worked at the local bingo hall for well below the ridiculously high minimum wage in BC (at the time I think it was $7.50, and we got paid $4/hr. And that wasn't even the only illegal thing! They also chainsmoked indoors). I was 13, and the creepy old dudes would make inappropriate comments to my friend and I, and sometimes "jokingly" tried to drop money down our pants. Good times.

  • MJ||

    I presume it was at least good training for your future debaucheries?

  • Old Mexican||

    Minimum wage law "winds up doing more harm to those people it's intended to help, than it actually benefits them," said James Sherk, a senior policy analyst with The Heritage Foundation[...]

    Well, the "intended" to help are actually Union workers who don't like the competition from younger upstarts. Minimum wage laws were intentionally designed to help the unionized. Period.

  • Eric||

    Actually, it's more insidious than that. Many union contracts, particularly service union contracts, stipulate wages indexed to the minimum wage, either in absolute terms (i.e., at least $7 above min. wage), or in relative terms (1.5 times minimum wage). So every time minimum wage goes up, boom, instant pay raise for those unions that have negotiated those contracts. It screws over young young people, inner-city black, and others with low human capital, and it overprices goods, but c'est la vie, eh?

  • ||

    One of the interesting things about minimum wage laws is that, in almost every jurisdiction, they have exemptions for agricultural workers.

    Is this because agricultural workers don't work hard?

    Nope. It's because the Farm Lobby has huge political clout and the unions who lobby for minimum wage laws don't view agricultural workers as competition for their jobs, which are primarily in the cities.

  • ||

    camps are being forced to layoff young councilors and cut back on field trips. This ends up hurting both college students and the children they are supposed to take care of. “It is harder when there are less counselors to get things done,” said college student and camp councilor Toni Watson

    Unless these kids work for the municipal government I would spell it counselors. Nevertheless I am impressed that it is missplelled twice in the same paragraph and spleled correctly once. And I'd go with fewer rather than less, Toni.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Who's Law is it?

    and spleled correctly

    DOH!

  • ||

    While I agree that a higher minimum wage can put a dent in part-time/temporary employment, there are other factors that probably have a bigger influence.

    That'll show me for not applying for the Reason internship!

  • Tony||

    Fact is there is no proven correlation between minimum wages (in any range applicable to the U.S.) and unemployment. It is an article of faith among many economists, especially from the Heritage Foundation, but it's just not true.

  • ||

    it's just not true.

    Since it is an article of faith among progressives that the government cannot tell you what you can do with your body I will ask you the same question I asked above: What makes it any of your or the government's business what an employer and an employee mutually agree on in the way of compensation?

  • Tony||

    Because in the absence of min. wage laws, they can "mutually agree" at a much lower rate than with min. wage laws.

  • Warren T||

    Oh God no! Not freedom! Nooooooooo!

  • Old Mexican||

    Fact is there is no proven correlation between minimum wages (in any range applicable to the U.S.) and unemployment.

    Depends on what you're measuring. There is a correlation between teen and young adult unemployment and the minimum wage. If you try to tie the national unemployment rate with the minimum wage you will see this correlation evened out, which is the trick the pro-State fascists play.

  • Old Mexican||

  • Tony||

    Right wing hack on a right wing hack website quoting a right wing hack newspaper showing a vague correlation with no causation in order to push a political agenda.

    I'm so convinced this whole thing isn't just a right wing talking point now!

  • Joe R.||

    Oh God no! Not freedom! Nooooooooo!

  • Jordan||

    Aside from the dozens of studies linked above by Sean...

  • Eric||

    In point of fact, you're ignorant on the matter. The connection between minimum wage and unemployment has been well-documented, and the attempts by Brad DeLong (a progressive economist) to find evidence to the contrary have all been debunked. In one particularly interesting case, Brad pointed to a survey of employers of low wage earners (service industries and the like), asking if their hiring practices were influenced by the min wage. Employers said, almost unanimously, no, and a jubilant DeLong presented it as evidence against the arguments that min wage brings unemployment. Come to find out, employment of low wage earners in those companies was drastically lower after the increase of the min wage, and never picked up to the point that it was at prior to passage. Employment had actually leaked like a sieve for 2-3 months before businesses even replaced the lost workers.

    While it is a myth that higher min wage results in mass layoffs, and it has minimal impact on those with high human capital (the middle and upper class, incl. teens) it is a nearly universal fact that min wage brings unemployment to those with low human capital through decreased future hiring.

  • ||

    I did?

    I thought my line was that at western European levels it looked as though the minimum wage had substantial disemployment effects, but at U.S. levels it really looks as though its disemployment effects are minor--and that if one wants to, say, make work pay for America's working class, at the margin a minimum wage increase has things going for it compared to an increase in the EITC.

    And I cite Alan Krueger, who knows more about this than I do, and the terrifying and intellectually intimidating David Card down the hall.

    I don't remember this at all. Early onset Alzheimer's, perhaps?

    Yours,

    Brad DeLong

  • ||

    if one wants to, say, make work pay for America's working class, at the margin a minimum wage increase has things going for it compared to an increase in the EITC.

    But if one wants to, say, reinforce the belief that the federal government exists to protect individual liberties and not to interfere with transactions between consenting individuals a minimum wage has nothing going for it.

  • ||

    I'm highly amused by the "free market" rationalization that lowering the minimum wage is to help create jobs and then turning around and proclaiming that, hey, illegal immigrantion is great because it will fill all those unfilled jobs.

    After all, if illegals and low paid labor is what it takes to get those cheap hotel rooms and lawns cut, then it's ok to look the other way at the high crime rates and costs to the taxpayers just as cheap batteries makes it ok to look the other way at toxic waste being dumped into drinking water.

    Then libertarians fret over the mystery as to why they can't break the 1% barrier in elections...

  • ||

    I believe that sets a record for most non-sequiturs in one post.

  • what||

    At least you appear to understand that post. It looks like someone opened a dictionary and dumped every word they could find together.

  • ||

    Yo, tardmeister -- you realize that people that don't concern themselves with the trivialities of immigration law are also surprisingly lax in their regard for minimum wage, yes?

    If a job is worth a dollar less than minimum wage to do, that's a job that someone will be doing under the table, if anyone does it at all. And who better to do it under the table than someone who loses just as much as their employer by publicizing the arrangement?

    At any rate, there's no moral rationale for demanding that dependents receive a "living wage".

  • ||

    Damn, didn't lose the spoof handle.

  • jtuf||

    It is still legal to have an unpaid internship, but only kids with allowances from the bank of mom and dad can afford to forgo income all together.

  • Hobie Hanson||

    According to Reason, 16-17 year olds are mature enough to deciding to transmit naked images of themselves and others through the airwaves, and turn themselves into walking talking billboards for drug use. But when they are useful as victims, they are labeled "children". Nice try, Reason, but you can't get away with that while I'm here.

  • Bradley||

    0/10

  • Bill||

    I suppose you missed the point that those kids are perfectly qualified to decide whether a job is worth the pay.

    That's EXACTLY why the government doesn't need to be involved, in the presence of a minimum wage.

    Which is entirely besides the fact that minimum wage laws hurt adult unskilled laborers too.

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