Posts tagged ‘David Neumark’

Turning America into Europe

The Europeans have crafted a regulatory environment in their labor market that grants all kinds of protections and gauranteed benefits at the expense of new or unskilled workers trying to join the workforce.  We are doing the same thing:

This year, it's harder than ever for teens to find a summer job. Researchers at Northeastern University
described summer 2007 as "the worst in post-World War II history" for
teen summer employment, and those same researchers say that 2008 is
poised to be "even worse."

According to their data, only about
one-third of Americans 16 to 19 years old will have a job this summer,
and vulnerable low-income and minority teens are going to fare even

The percentage of teens classified as "unemployed""”those
who are actively seeking a job but can't get one"”is more than three
times higher than the national unemployment rate, according to the most
recent Department of Labor statistics.

One of the prime reasons
for this drastic employment drought is the mandated wage hikes that
policymakers have forced down the throats of local businesses. Economic
research has shown time and again that increasing the minimum wage
destroys jobs for low-skilled workers while doing little to address

According to economist David Neumark of the University of California at Irvine,
for every 10 percent increase in the minimum wage, employment for high
school dropouts and young black adults and teenagers falls by 8.5
percent. In the past 11 months alone, the United States' minimum wage has increased by more than twice that amount.

Economics is a Science. Really.

I was going to respond to Kevin Drum's post crowing that the Oregon minimum wage increase didn't do any harm.  But Brian Doss at Catallarchy does a fine enough job that I will outsource to him. Here is a taste:

The 5.4% unemployment rate tells us a bit more; its 1 point higher
than the national average. I'm not going to be as quick as Kevin to
infer causation from correlation here either, but it doesn't seem like
much of a positive spin to say that a rate of unemployment that's 25%
higher than the national average is good because it happened to be 7.2%
back in 2002"¦

Also, the quote seems seriously confused that there is a meaningful
distinction (in this case) between the theoretical and statistical
(what else would employment economists use in their theory?). Despite
that confusion, David Neumark (mentioned in the WSJ article) does lay out a fairly comprehensive, concrete,  statistical study of minimum wage laws and their effects here,
among other things showing that for whatever else a minimum wage does,
the effect is primarily among the teenaged to those in their early 20s,
the sign is negative, and in the long run negative if a minimum wage
prevents a teen or young adult from gaining employment and more
importantly not gaining the habits of employment.

Further evidence of the this kind is summarized by Alex Tabarrok here,
whereby he relates studies showing that 25% of the folk on the mininum
wage (nationall) are teenagers, and 50% of all minimum wage earners are
aged 25 and younger. These are people, Alex notes, that with age and
experience will likely soon earn more than minimum wage anyway, thus as
an antipoverty tool it's fairly weak....

Its a particularly bad antipoverty tool, it has non-trivial effects
on the structure of employment within and across industries, and has
possible non-trivial long term negative effects on low-skill
individuals' abilities to stay employed and to increase their own
productivity and standards of living. All of the things it purports to
want to do can be done by much more targeted, efficient, and effective
policy tools.2 

"˜Liberals' of America, please, I beg of you: save your breath for policies that actually help poor Americans, eh? And it you won't do it for me, can you do it for the children"¦?

There is much more good stuff.

Whenever I read these articles by progressives that basically boil down to "the most basic laws of supply and demand don't apply to labor, which is the most fundamental trade good in the economy," I just have to shake my head.  I am reminded of my advice to progressives:

Economics is a science.  Willful ignorance or emotional
rejection of the well-known precepts of this science is at least as bad
as a fundamentalist Christian's willful ignorance of evolution science
(for which the Left so often criticizes their opposition).
fact, economic ignorance is much worse, since most people can come to
perfectly valid conclusions about most public policy issues with a
flawed knowledge of the origin of the species but no one can with a
flawed understanding of economics.