12 June 2016

Misconceptions About Teen Unemployment and the Minimum Wage

You might see these little banners and graphs depicting the plunging rate of teen employment and this is usually followed by some declarative statement about the minimum wage kills jobs etc...

As usual these statistics are totally misunderstood by the Libertarian wing. Big corporations with lots of minimum wage workers will probably make some cuts but many small employers already pay higher than the minimum wage. All too often it's not enough to live on but they do pay a bit more.

San Francisco and the state of Washington have high minimum wages and by some measures are economically exceeding many other areas of the country.

This link demonstrates some of the statistical ambiguity and one thing is clear... employment statistics are complicated and there's more to it than simply pegging growth or retraction to an increase in the minimum wage.

What's happening is this...

There are more adults being forced into the low-wage sector. Companies are demanding sporadic and erratic work schedules, ones that teens can't comply with.

More elderly people are working. The reasons for this are many but generally speaking most companies would rather hire a part time 70 year-old than a teen.

Companies would rather hire adults. The present crop of teens has probably the worst work ethic and basic skills of any generation in memory. Their parents have failed them. I know of a local business that opened about a year ago. The owner loves teens and was determined to hire as many as could. The teen angle would have fit with his business. By the end of summer he was done with teens and doesn't want to hire them anymore.

That's not the first time I've heard that story.

Why aren't the teens getting hired? Lots of reasons, but primarily because the working poor are taking their jobs. What's the conservative answer? Blame the working poor and anyone who tries to do anything about the problem which is leading to a complete breakdown of society.



  1. I've seen a different angle of this, working, as I do, part-time retail in food-service. In fact, I see a lot more jobs offered to teens, allowing a branch to flood the employee roster with part-time dependents who do not require the money to live and meet ends meet. This means giving less time to people who have no or little option in another industry, allowing them to fall under full-time and lose their company benefits. Thus, it's all a game where the company gets more labor and pays less and offsets the lack of a living wage with the safety net of government subsities, creating a vicious, indefinite cycle of near poverty. Thus, in order to get ahead, work themselves to the bone with 2-3 part-time retail jobs, with no real translatable experience.

    And yet, I recall, when there was that fast-food workers strike over minimum wage, idiots like Hannity and Cavuto opened their fat mouths about how they had jobs as a kid. Unlike them, there are a lot of people, for whatever reason, cannot get themselves a talkshow gig.

    Of course, the stories are always more complicated, but the prevalence of teenagers in the work-place irritates me, as it usually is at other people's expense. And, usually, there's a kind of flippant disregard for the job, as it is seen as a mean to buy luxury good or hang out with friends. There are other means to learn virtues of self-discipline and obedience than taking other people's jobs.

    It's all a sick cycle. This all feeds into the overwhelming nihilism of 21st century USA, where "killing time" is all anyone seems to be interested in doing. There's a kind of suicidal violence inherent in our lethargy.

    2 cents,

  2. It is a sick cycle. People don't care about doing a good job, which is wrong. But if they're unbelievers what should we expect? They're treated poorly, taken advantage of, so they don't care.

    The Right-wing pundits always seem to blame the workers. They need to improve themselves and get out of those minimum wage jobs. The minimum wage was just for teenagers etc...

    Well, tell that to the employers? Do they not have any culpability? Is it ethical to pay someone a wage that you can't even begin to live off of? Because people won't do what is right (on all sides) you end up with bad laws and overall a terrible system.

    And yes, there is something very wrong with this generation of teens. I'm not that old but there's a marked difference in the generations. I've often wondered if this happens with every generational shift. To some degree it does but when I talk to older people that have seen several generations come up, they will all say.... no, this one is different. Something has changed.

    Of course it's the parents who are largely to blame. It's they who have raised them.

    I live in a rural area and yet it is astonishing to seem the percentage of young adults that are 'dysfunctional'... they've got some kind of syndrome or -ism that seems to prevent them from working or growing up. They are living at home and I don't know what's going to happen to them. I know of one guy that's actually in his 40's (I believe)... not quite the contemporary 'young' generation but I think of him when I look at these others. He's worthless (sorry to be so blunt). He can work but his temperament won't allow it. He just basically watches tv and movies all day. At one point his mother tossed him out and within a few months he ended up getting arrested. Things weren't going his way so he just started stealing and getting into confrontations with people. His mother took him back. But she's in her 70's. What will happen when she's gone or no longer autonomous? He'll be out on the street and like the big spoiled brat that he is, he'll be making trouble.

    I can think of several more examples like him. Just big brats. Their parents are ashamed but they made them what they are and have helped them perpetuate their false lives.