Summer wallpaper, landscaping and office jobs are rites of passage for high school and young college students. As summer jobs for teenagers fall victim to nationwide budget cuts, the youth unemployment rate soars. An unintended consequence of the minimum wage hike?
Insufficient Student Summer Jobs in 2009
The Bureau of Labor Statistics outlines that – in 2009 – roughly 4.4 million youths (those aged between 16 and 24) were considered unemployed. This figure represents a one million increase from just a short year ago, which translates into an overall youth unemployment rate of 18.5 percent.
According to the records kept by the organization, this summer unemployment figure for the age group represents the highest since record-keeping began in 1948. It is noteworthy that of the unemployed youths, more than 31 percent are African American, 22 percent are Hispanic, 16 percent are Caucasian American and another 16 percent are Asian. (Figures are rounded.)
The Law of Unintended Consequences: Lack of Summer Jobs Lead to Increased Youth Violence
Going back to 2005, a report of the Special Committee on Youth Violent Crime Prevention by the Boston City Council showcases that youth-involved shootings occurred in summer, on weekends and later during the day. By comparison, this form of violence was “all but absent during the hours high school was in session, and increased significantly after dismissal.”
Not surprisingly, the generation of summer jobs was at the top of the recommendations to curtail the teen violence and keep kids occupied when school is no longer available to keep them off the streets. It would be foolhardy to place the burden of parenting at-risk teens on the parents and trust that the violence will end.
Student Summer Jobs Outlook for 2010: Dismal!
If the New York Times is to be believed, there are even less summer jobs for teenagers and college students than there were in 2009. The artificial economy prop-up in the form of stimulus money – which kept the worst at bay last year – is running out and federally funded summer jobs are no longer supported this year.
Private employers are making hiring decisions that places teens at the back of the line, well behind college graduates, heads of households and seasoned baby boomers with ample job experience and a proven work ethic. Of course, at a time when 300,000 jobs carry a federal price tag of $1 billion, it is not surprising that youths should not hold their breaths in the hopes for last minute funding.
The Law of Unintended Consequences II: Is the Minimum Wage Hike to Blame for the Absence of Summer Jobs?
This rather steep price tag showcases just how expensive the creation of summer jobs has become. While teens and some college students are willing to accept minimum wage jobs, U.S. News reminds job seekers that in 2007 the minimum wage was increased – by congressional vote – from $5.15 to $7.25 and hour. Even back then there were warnings that this step would contribute to the loss of roughly 300,000 summer jobs for teenagers.
Is it fair to say that the 2007 minimum wage hike begot a decrease in summer jobs for teenagers and will beget an increase in youth violence?