Minimum Wage Hike Short-Changes Teens

Higher minimum wages have driven a decline in teenage employment since 2000, according to the Mercatus Center.

. . . higher minimum wages are associated with a lower share of teens age 16–17 both in school and employed, and a higher share in school and not employed.

[In addition] the study found no positive relationship between higher minimum wages for teens and higher future earnings. The evidence, if anything, says that teens exposed to higher minimum wages since 2000 had acquired fewer skills in adulthood. Thus, it is more likely that the principal effect of higher minimum wages since 2000, in terms of human capital, was to reduce employment opportunities that could enhance labor market experience.

In other words, the minimum wage has driven-down teenage employment, making young adults less employable. Yet, Governor Wolf continues to push for a $12 minimum wage, a substantial increase from the current $7.25. Despite the evidence, the Governor believes this change will actually improve employment and reduce welfare costs by $101 million annually.

Studies show raising the minimum wage does not spur economic growth nor reduce welfare costs—it simply redistributes dollars, often harming low-skilled workers.

Last year, the Independent Fiscal Office estimated a $12 minimum wage would eliminate 54,000 jobs.

Just last week, Lehigh Valley small business owners and community leaders expressed how a higher minimum wage would hurt their communities. Carbon County Commissioners’ Chairman Wayne E. Nothstein said:

Here in the county, it would affect our summer help, part-time help. If we have 25-30 employees that are going to get a $2-an-hour increase, that adds up over a period of time. It goes back to the taxpayers . . . we . . . would have to look at how many positions could we eliminate to make up for it. It’s going to have a huge impact on the county budget for salaries, also workmen’s comp claims or payments are based on what we pay out annually on salaries.

Likewise, Chris Nelson, manager of the Beacon 443 Restaurant in Lehighton, put it simply:

We’d either have to cut our staffing or raise prices, or a combination thereof.

The best way to raise wages isn't through government mandates, but by creating the conditions for job growth so generations of Pennsylvanians can flourish.