The International Labor Organization (ILO) recently reported that the global youth unemployment rate has reached a record high, with the rate likely only getting worse as the year rolls on. In total, 81 million out of 630 million 15-24 year-olds were unemployed at the end of 2009, an increase of 7.8 million from a year earlier.
Certainly the global economic downturn—including the United States’ own financial crisis—has a great deal to do with these numbers. Young employees are typically the most inexperienced and uneducated among us in the workforce. As a result, these dispensable workers are usually the first to lose their jobs and are the ones most struggling to find new employment.
One piece of legislation that has likely only exacerbated the problem particularly in the United States is the Federal Minimum Wage Act of 2007, which has, since becoming law, increased the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour over roughly a two-year period. As the federal government forces employers to pay their employees higher wages, there is less money available to hire additional workers. Businesses, in effect, are forced to exclude certain groups of people, especially the poorest and least productive (including the youth), from the labor force.
North Carolina legislators, however, have recently offered legislation that would increase the state’s minimum wage. Sen. Josh Stein (D-Wake) and Reps. Alma Adams (D-Guilford), William Wainwright (D-Craven), and Paul Luebke (D-Durham) sponsored bills during the most recent long legislative session that would increase the minimum wage periodically to be in line with the consumer price index. Luckily none of this legislation ever made it out of committee, which would only cause more and more of the youth in North Carolina to remain without jobs.