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!