Teen unemployment has been averaging more than 20 percent for 40 consecutive months, according to the bureau and the Employment Policies Institute. Georgia ranks 11th on a list of the worst states, with a teen jobless rate of 27.9 percent.EPI research fellow Mike Saltsman said there are several factors that contribute to a dearth of available positions for young job-seekers, but a significant one in Georgia was the $2.10 jump in the federal minimum wage in recent years.
When the minimum wage is increased, hiring a worker comes at a higher cost, Saltsman said. Businesses tend to explore other options, such as automation or adding to employees’ workloads.
“There are only so many ways to offset that, and it’s usually doing more with less,” Saltsman said.
Rising teen unemployment is a problem because young adults learn valuable skills on the job that can’t be taught in a classroom.
“A young person, when they’re employed, is picking up more than a paycheck,” Saltsman said. “You learn something by reporting to a manager, working with customers and showing up early to work.”
Finding a job still isn’t impossible, and Saltsman suggested teens begin the search early and consider working an unpaid internship to receive the nonmonetary benefits of a job.
“There really is more competition than there used to be, but the value of an employment opportunity is more than a paycheck,” he said.