There’s a reason Teen Unemployment is High

Below is a letter to the editor of the Columbus Dispatch.

Dear Editor,

In your 7/22 paper, you editorialize that because the recession has made employment difficult for teens, they should volunteer their time because they are, as you put it, “disadvantaged.”

You also write “Our grandparents called it ‘paying your dues.'” Essentially you’re suggesting that teens, whose unemployment rate is 23.7% nationally, should make their labor worth $0 an hour.

There is nothing wrong with working for free to get your foot in the door. Interns do it all of the time, and this practice has been around for ages. However, nowhere in your editorial do you point out why teens are “disadvantaged.”

Perhaps your readers would be interested to know the effects of the minimum wage, which legislates a price floor on what people can accept in exchange for work, on teenage employment. In short, most economists can tell you that the higher you set a price floor on wages, the higher the unemployment rate for workers with lower skills, including most teens.

Yet, some in Ohio — namely unions and those supposedly interested in a “living wage” — are pushing for Ohio to raise its minimum wage by $2 an hour. If successful, that’s nice work — if you can get it. Anyone else might be relegated to theĀ other minimum wage set by the help of unions and “progressive” liberals: $0 an hour.

If one is to believe their argument — namely that there are zero economic disadvantages to hiking the minimum wage to a “living wage” — why not require all employers to pay the prevailing wage set by unions. I’m sure unemployment won’t dip one percentage point.

Jim Swift
Alexandria, VA

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