Wall Street Journal, Ed Morrissey ignore immigration impact on teen unemployment
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The Wall Street Journal posts  and Ed Morrissey of HotAir hypes  an editorial blaming the minimum wage for very high teen unemployment (see this). While the minimum wage might play a role, a clearer role is played by massive low-skilled immigration. Yet, neither the WSJ nor Morrissey even hint at that. Perhaps it's because the WSJ is a strong supporter of unlimited immigration, and Morrissey isn't exactly a strong opponent of that.
Thus, this is yet another example of the Fiscal Con: fiscal conservatives responding to the negative impacts of their policies by placing blame somewhere else. See that link for past examples.
Only 24% of teens, one in four, have jobs, compared to 42% as recently as the summer of 2001. The nearby chart chronicles the teen employment percentage over time, including the notable plunge in the last decade. So instead of learning valuable job skills—getting out of bed before noon, showing up on time, being courteous to customers, operating a cash register or fork lift—millions of kids will spend the summer playing computer games or hanging out.
The lousy economic recovery explains much of this decline in teens working, and some is due to increases in teen summer school enrollment. Some is also cultural: Many parents don't put the same demands on teens as they once did to get out and work.
But Congress has also contributed by passing one of the most ill-timed minimum wage increases in history. One of the first acts of the gone-but-not-forgotten Nancy Pelosi ascendancy was to raise the minimum wage in stages to $7.25 an hour in 2009 from $5.15 in 2007. Even liberals ought to understand that raising the cost of hiring the young and unskilled while employers are slashing payrolls is loopy economics...
The logic of minimum wage hikes (or the existence of it in the first place) is hard to discern anyway. Leaving aside the argument against a legal minimum, though, the effect of raising the level doesn’t end up delivering prosperity or more buying power. It drives up business costs with no commensurate increase in value, leading to either fewer employees or higher prices.
Either way, it erodes the buying power of those making the lowest wages while at the same time also eroding their bargaining value in the job market. After all, if a business has to hire someone at $2 more per hour, why not hire the more experienced applicant and avoid taking chances on the inexperienced? In a labor market in the shape as we have currently, no one needs to make the latter choice.