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Should Miminum Wage for Teens be Lowered?

By sandymaple |

When I was a teen, every kid I knew had an after-school job.  Mine was in the mall, working at Hickory Farms.  I don’t remember exactly what I got paid, but it was it was something like $2.50 per hour.  These days, the minimum wage is much higher at $7.25 an hour.  While that may not sound like much, some feel that it’s too much for employers to handle and a contributing factor to the decline in the number of teens working.

Just 3 years ago, minimum wage was $5.15 and the teen unemployment rate was 16%.  But as the minimum wage rose, so did the teen unemployment rate.  Today, 26%  of people aged 16 to 19 aren’t working.

Of course, some of those out-of-work teens are casualties of a poor economy. But James Sherk, a labor policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, believes that if  there were a lower minimum wage requirement for teens, more more employers would be willing to hire them.  He estimates that by dropping the minimum wage for teens back down to the 2007 rate of $5.15 per hour, nearly 500,000 jobs would be created.

But why should teens, who are presumably being supported by their families, even need a job?  Because working not only gives teens extra money which many need in order to pay for college, Michael Saltsman of the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) says that teens with jobs gain skills they just can’t get outside the workplace.

There’s an invisible curriculum from being employed, learning to work with co-workers, reporting to a supervisor, learning to deal with customers.”

But some fear that lowering the minimum wage for teens will inadvertently knock older workers out of the workplace.  Why pay an adult over seven bucks an hour when you can get a kid to do the same job for less? As important as jobs are to teens, aren’t they are more important to those who work to support themselves and their families?

Image: swanksalot/Flickr

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0 thoughts on “Should Miminum Wage for Teens be Lowered?

  1. PlumbLucky says:

    My guess would be that employers are also less likely to hire a teen (who if still in HS are bound by certain hours and limits) anyways if there is an equivalent adult available. Not sure if the higher teen UE rate has anything to do with the higher wage, or if its more to do with the wage increase happening about the time the economy went in the tank.
    I know I used my job to save money for college. It paid 30 cents more than minimum, which wasn’t much, but it was something.
    Several of my friends were (unfortunately) statistics as well: teen moms. Should they have been paid less because they were teens? They weren’t saving for college, they were trying to scrape by.

  2. jennifer says:

    Another contributing factor in teen unemployment is helicopter parents not wanting kids to be driving after dark/taking time away from school work and extracurricular activities/not wanting them to stray too far from the nest. Of the 4 people in our office with teenagers, they have all pretty much forbidden their kids from getting jobs due to one or more of the reasons stated above (not that the kids were really asking for a job anyway). I offered two of the dads with teenage daughters $15/hour to come watch my 18-month-old sleep (the hours were 8-midnight, so they would have made $60 for doing their homework or whatever. We would have driven them home). One dad didn’t even give the option to his daughter, and the other asked and his daughter and she wasn’t interested.

  3. PlumbLucky says:

    I hadn’t thought of that either jennifer – but added to it, driving restrictions in my state/licensing requirements are MUCH stiffer now. I never had to worry about driving home in the dark, kids now do (even once licensed they have to have so many hours with a parent at night before they can do so unrestricted).

  4. Robyn says:

    Some teens are trying to support their families. So no, I don’t think there should be a different minimum wage for teenagers.

  5. [...] Should Minimum Wage for Teens be Lowered? [...]

  6. Ri-chan says:

    It’s not fair for a teen to do the same work and get paid less.

  7. Jenny says:

    One good solution could be to make nonprofessional part time work have a separate, lower min. wage than the current min. wage. That way you aren’t lowing someone’s career pay. Part time work is not your career- its extra work for some extra cash.

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