American teens will face challenges in finding jobs this summer, an analysis of the May 2012 Census Bureau data shows.
The study conducted by the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) finds that teen unemployment has been steady above 20 percent for more than three years, yet above 25 percent for as many as 18 states, including Colorado, and the District of Columbia. The national average is currently 24.6 percent.
May 2012 data show Colorado ranking 11th in the list of states with high unemployment rates, at 28.6 percent. DC and California top the list with, respectively, 52.1 and 35.6 percent.
Researchers at EPI say the burden has pushed minimum-wage increase proposals in Rhode Island, Michigan, Massachusetts, Illinois, New Jersey and New York. On the federal level, two proposals have been introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., aimed at raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to approximately $10 an hour.
“Policymakers should be cautious of passing new legislation, such as misguided minimum wage hikes, that makes it even more difficult for vulnerable teens to find a job,” says Michael Saltsman, research fellow at EPI. “The first day of summer is almost here, but there’s still no guarantee of a summer job for the nation’s teens.”
A summer job for teens doesn’t just mean money. It's an opportunity for young people to get trained for the skills they need to be successful in their lives.
“Missing out on job experience now can have a lasting effect on earnings and employability. As we head in to the summer of 2012, states should avoid building more barriers between young adults and this invaluable experience,” Saltsman concluded.
According to economists at Miami and Trinity Universities, 114,000 fewer teens had jobs following the last federal minimum wage increase between 2007 and 2009.