Minimum Wage Backers Leave Young Minorities Behind

Commonwealth Foundation
Contact: 717-671-1901

Minimum Wage Backers Leave Young Minorities Behind

Wage mandates push black youth out of the job market

Today, Big Labor-backed groups will rally to raise Pennsylvania’s mandated minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. This comes on the heels of Philadelphia’s Mayor Nutter announcing his plan to raise the city’s minimum wage via executive order. Unfortunately, raising the minimum wage has the unintended effect of putting young workers, especially minorities, out of work.

“In April, the black youth unemployment rate stood at a shocking 36.8 percent nationwide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” Elizabeth Stelle, senior policy analyst for the Commonwealth Foundation, commented. “That’s more than double the rate for white youth, and several times higher than for adult workers. We’ve seen past minimum wage hikes push youth unemployment up by 10 percent. I would expect a similar impact on young, low-skilled workers from a drastic jump to more than $10 per hour.

“Raising the minimum wage won’t help young workers along the path to success; it will simply keep them from getting their first job.”

Contrary to popular belief, wage mandates feed the cycle of poverty by blocking low-skilled employees from the job market. Employers respond to wage mandates by hiring fewer workers, and those most harmed are those who most need work experience.

Stelle continued:

“We’ve been here before: Between 2007 and 2009 more Pennsylvania black youths lost their jobs as a consequence of minimum wage hikes than because of the Great Recession. While mandating wage increases for some might look compassionate to voters, it comes at the expense of those reaching for the first rung on the ladder to success—the very people minimum wage advocates claim to want to help.”

Lawmakers should instead expand employment opportunities by scaling back barriers to new careers, reducing the cost of hiring workers, and freeing entrepreneurs from other burdensome and ineffective regulations so they can hire more workers.

Elizabeth Stelle and other Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment on the unintended consequences of minimum wage increases.

Please contact me at 717-671-1901 to schedule an interview.


Cindy Hamill
Dir. of Strategic Communications
Commonwealth Foundation
Harrisburg | King of Prussia
Office: 171-671-1901
[email protected]