High minimum wages rob youths

Posted on June 04, 2009

The Mercury News article (Page 1A, June 2) “Economic downturn makes finding summer jobs tough for teens” acknowledged the high unemployment rate for teens, but failed to mention the negative long-term problems these skyrocketing unemployment rates cause for teens.

A study out of Stanford University found that those who as youths experienced especially long periods of unemployment were particularly prone to negative long-term effects on future wages and employment. And research from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill found that unemployment for teens continues to adversely affect earnings for as long as 10 years!

Not having a summer job takes more than just money away from teens. Those who are priced out of the job market by high minimum wages are also deprived of the “invisible curriculum” that comes from learning how to report to a supervisor, show up on time, and work with others as part of a team. State and federal lawmakers should recognize that “feel good” wage hikes hurt vulnerable workers like teens, and they will feel the negative impact for years to come.

Kristen Lopez Eastlick Economic analyst Employment Policies Institute Washington, D.C.