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High unemployment hurts teens in U.S. metropolitan areas

A part time job gives teens more than spending money. In fact, according to research published in the Journal of Labor Economics those who work part-time as teens earn higher wages in the future than their counterparts who didn't hold a job. For some teens it's not a matter of whether or not they want to work. Instead, the issue is can they find work. According to a June 1 article in WCF Courier teens living in Southern California are facing 54.2 percent unemployment and those living in the Pacific Northwest are faced with a 53.8 percent jobless rate. And in the Chicago area one third of teenagers can't find work.

Teens facing high unemployment rate

These statistics include youth ages 16-19 and aren't restricted to the cities mentioned above. In reality, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data between 2013 and April 2014 released last week by the Employment Policies Institute back in 2008 only 32.6 percent of teens ages 16 to 19 were employed That was an historic low, down from 45.2 percent in 2000. However this year, economic indicators show teens are going to face an even higher unemployment rate. This translates into young people competing for the same jobs as adults.

The EPI report showed many of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas are experiencing high teen unemployment but four of the top five worst metro areas for joblessness for teens are in California. Michael Saltsman who is the research director at the EPI came to them from the Bureau of Labor Statistics where he worked as a field economist who worked with data related to the labor market. In a recent news release, he said, “Teens across the country this summer are missing out on valuable work experience as they continue to suffer through an extended period of high unemployment and difficult job prospects.”

A closer look at wages and teen unemployment

In the current economic climate where a clamoring for higher minimum wages is spreading across the country, it's important to note that in California where the top four highest teen unemployment rates are found that they have a mandated bottom wage of $8 which is scheduled to go up to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016. Similarly, Oregon has a minimum wage of $9.10; and Washington has a $9.32 minimum wage. They all have high teen unemployment. This is another indicator that a higher minimum wage leads to fewer minimum wage opportunities. Some are suggesting a training wage which could be lower than minimum wage, but is that really the answer?

In the above statistics, the teens who are classified as unemployed are those who are actively seeking a job but can't find one.

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