Young people and African-Americans voted for Barack Obama for President in very high percentages. But Obama betrayed both groups. Those two groups are major segments of the high unemployment we have today, and in particular are badly hurt by the lack of summer jobs. The Department of Labor reported that fewer 16-to-19-year-olds are working this summer than at any time since records began to be kept in 1948. Ten years ago, half of teens would have summer jobs. This year, only 24%, one in four, have jobs. If you look at this on a chart, the line looks like young people are falling off a cliff. Black teens have had the worst of it. Their unemployment rate is 42%.
Summer jobs are so important for young people. They teach them valuable job skills, such as getting out of bed before noon, showing up on time, being courteous to customers, or operating a cash register or fork lift. So what will the 76% of young people do if they can't find a summer job? Millions of kids will spend the summer playing computer games or hanging out. Others with time on their hand will get into more dangerous mischief.
Some of this joblessness for teens is due to the steady increase in the minimum wage. Every time Congress raises the minimum wage, more young people are laid off and fewer are hired. Economists like to tell us that the minimum wage is the biggest reason for young people's unemployment, and it is one cause. But the bigger cause is the Law of Supply and Demand. No one will hire teenagers when they can get adult immigrants or foreign students cheaper. Allowing millions of foreigners to come into our country every year, both legally and illegally, is the biggest cause of young people's unemployment, and it's time that we face up to that issue.
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