Unemployment is a major topic of concern throughout the nation, but one aspect of this issue often overlooked is the plight facing teens. While Idaho's overall unemployment rate remains uncomfortably high, Idaho's teen unemployment rate is several times higher. In addition to this disturbingly high unemployment rate, teens are facing reduced hours and many have abandoned the goal of employment altogether.
There may well be multiple reasons why unemployment has risen so quickly among teens, but the one that cannot be overlooked is the rapid increase of the minimum wage. Between 2007 and 2009 the federal minimum wage increased from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour. This represented a 41 percent increase during a period that included the beginning of a major economic downturn. It is unsurprising that such a dramatic increase in the baseline cost of labor led to an equally dramatic decline in the demand for it.