Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bloomberg article on why teenagers are not in the labor force ignores obvious reason

Just one in three teens in the U.S. worked or looked for a job in January, a record-low since 1948 when the Labor Department data starts. That lack of on-the-job experience could cost future workers, who may lag behind on basic skills their parents developed waiting tables or running registers, some economists say.

Why would teenagers choose to not be in the labor force?  The obvious answer is that the unemployment rate is so high that workers are discouraged and dropping out of the labor force.  Many don't want to search for a job when 25% of those who are actively looking can't find one.

And why is the unemployment rate so high?  Clearly the minimum wage is the biggest reason.  (See here for previous blog post on the issue.)  Unfortunately, this Bloomberg article didn't once mention the minimum wage.

Another excerpt:
Forgone starter jobs probably won’t cost those who earn a college degree, said Harry Holzer, a professor of public policy at Georgetown University in Washington, and former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor. 
“If you’re going onto college anyway, especially a four-year college, and the job you would have is serving up pizza slices, then you’re not missing out on anything important,” he said.
I disagree with this.  Further, this is demeaning to those who are "serving up pizza slices".  Those individuals, along with people who work jobs like what I had, at a fast-food restaurant, learn to show up for work when required, to answer to a boss, to deal with customers, and how to be responsible.  These are skills that are crucial to career success, and not having these skills can set back a college graduate dramatically in his/her quest for a promotion and career advancement.


  1. In states that have minimum wages that mirrow the federal minimum wage those under 20 years of age can be pay only 4.25 hour for the first 90 days their employed. Its a training wage so to speak yet the unemployment rate for teenagers in these states is not that low. Companies should be falling over each other to hire teenagers if they are only required to pay them 4.25 an hour for their first nindy days of employment.. Companies that are doing under five hundred thousand dollars in annual sales are exempt from the minimum wage. And that five hundred thousand figure includes the majority of small business. It really bothers me whanever theirs a debate about the minimum wage that these facts are never brought up..Another thing its generally not that big a deal if you had a job at mcdonald's when you went to high school. If someone has the skills when they leave collage or some tech school when they are being considered for the job I do not believe that the interviewer is really all that concerned about whether or not they worked at a Mcdonald's when they were in high school. Their a lot more concerned about what they took when they went to school. Another thing high students that do not have a job flipping hamburgers when their in high school generally perform better in school get better grades are less likely to drop out of school than their hambuger flipping peers.

    1. Thanks for commenting. I responded here ...