The answer to youth joblessness is not another progressive wage hike
New York City’s jobless crisis continues. State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli reports nearly a quarter (23.6%) of Gotham men aged 16-24 seeking a job can’t find one. Counting women in that age bracket, it’s a still-awful 17.9% vs. 8.3% nationally.
Naturally, progressives want to make it even worse: The Raise the Wage Act from state Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Qns) and Assemblymember Latoya Joyner (D-Bronx) would hike the minimum wage (yet again) in the city and suburbs to $21.25 an hour by 2026.
Of course, they deny that the current $15 minimum is a big reason young people can’t get hired. But the truth is that few employers think someone with little or no work experience is likely to deliver $15 an hour in value.
Work experience at any wage teaches valuable lessons, starting with the need to show up on time (among other realities). So being unable to get that first job makes it harder to develop the skills that make employees worth a higher wage.
The $15 minimum is already holding back NY job recovery. Raising it higher would slow things down even more, especially for young people.
It’d also punish mom-and-pop businesses. Retail giants and chain restaurants may be able to keep going, but it’ll be tougher for bodegas, small groceries, and the pizza shop on the corner.
Again: Youth unemployment has lasting consequences, including depressed lifetime earnings. Plus work — especially for young men — is a source not only of money but also of dignity, meaning, and autonomy.
By rights, today’s challenging economy should move politicians to lower the minimum wage. Open up jobs for kids as stock clerks and delivery workers, and make it easy for smaller businesses to expand and thrive.
So-called progressives need to stop putting ideology ahead of young people’s real needs.