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July 2012 Policy Study, Number 12-7


Teen Unemployment in Iowa





Unemployment rates in Iowa are consistently higher for teens age 16-19 years old and for high school graduates age 18-20 years old than they are for the Iowa workforce as a whole. With a higher minimum wage, business owners need a certain level of productivity and skill set to make hiring an additional worker worthwhile, and often teen workers do not have the skills required, and thus often remain unemployed.


“Congress has spent billions of dollars — including $1.5 billion in the stimulus bill — on summer youth employment programs and job training,”[22] and still, teen unemployment rates remain higher than unemployment rates overall. Instead, the government should adopt a policy that would make teen labor more affordable and attractive to businesses in Iowa and the United States by allowing a sub-minimum wage for teen workers. The benefit of having a higher minimum wage is cancelled out if teen workers are receiving fewer hours of work. And for those teens that want a job but cannot find one, their wages are $0.




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