Unemployment Remains Near 30 Percent for 16 to 17-Year-Olds

New data released today from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the unemployment rate for 16 to 17-year-olds rose to 29.8 percent in May, the third highest it has ever been. The number of employed 16 to 17-year-olds fell by 24,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The unemployment rate for 16 to 19-year-old teens increased to 26.4 percent, with close to half of these unemployed teens (49.8 percent) searching for a job for the first time.

“This summer, the destructive combination of a prolonged recession and increases in the minimum wage is keeping teens out of work,” said Michael Saltsman, research fellow at .

“Across the country, traditional summer employers like pools and produce farms are cutting back on hiring, citing higher labor costs.”

Nearly three-quarters of economists surveyed by the University of New Hampshire agreed that a higher minimum wage – including the 40 percent increase in the federal wage between July 2007 and July 2009 – causes employers to hire fewer entry-level employees, especially inexperienced teens.

Saltsman continued: “Teens without a summer job miss out on the ‘invisible curriculum’ that comes from reporting to an employer, showing up on time and interacting with customers.”

“With summer upon us, a top priority should be rolling back wage mandates that shut less-experienced teens out of work opportunities. Even the small step of creating a blanket lower entry wage for teens would improve job prospects this summer.”

Updated 06-04-2010

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