Has the Minimum Wage Caused a Decline in Jobs for Teens?

By Joseph Lawler

Political Calculations always provides interesting, alternative ways of looking at data. The latest update examines President Obama's minimum wage proposal, with a review of what's happened since 1994, when the minimum wage was $4.25 per hour.

Here's the key graph:

Since 1994 the number of teens and young adults without income has gone up steeply. Even more surprising, the number of teens and youg adults with income (i.e., with full-time or part-time jobs) has gone down.

What does this have to do with the minimum wage? Political Calculations explains that approximately half of all minimum wage earners are teens or young adults. It appears that the rise in the minimum wage has priced a growing number of young workers out of jobs (read the Political Calculations post for a longer explanation).

That's not reason, in itself, to oppose raising the minimum wage. But, if indeed the increased minimum wage is keeping millions of teens and young adults sidelined, that should be weighed against the benefits that accrue to the youth who get a raise out of the deal.

Joseph Lawler is editor of RealClearPolicy. He can be reached by email or on twitter.

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