The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the employment situation for June last week and the outlook is not as worthy of cheerleading as some on the left would have you believe.
Although the number of jobs created was slightly higher than the recent monthly average, most of those were part-time jobs. In fact, the number of people employed full time actually decreased since last month by over half a million. Over a quarter of the jobs created were in retail and food service, now the fastest growing sector of the economy. Moreover, the labor participation rate remained stagnant at just under 63 percent for the third straight month – its lowest point since the late 1970s.
Opportunities for young people are also lacking, just as many students are looking for summer jobs – work that provides valuable experience and wage growth later in life. Youth unemployment actually increased this month to a whopping 21 percent. Worse, young people are participating in the labor force at much lower rates compared to last year. Last June, over 40 percent of teenagers ages 16-19 were either employed or looking for work. This year, it’s dropped to just a third. The economy is doing so poorly that many young people have given up looking for work entirely – which does not bode well for their future or the future of the economy.
When these unemployed teenagers try to join the workforce full time with no experience, they’ll be competing with the same people who have had to take part time jobs because they were unable to find other work. Unfortunately, this is a growing portion of the population. The number employed part time because their hours were cut or they could not find a full time job is rising, up 275,000 from last month, to 7.5 million. Minimum wage hikes only exacerbate this problem as they disproportionately harm unskilled workers such as teenagers, who currently hold a quarter of all minimum wage jobs. Now is not the time to raise the minimum wage and make it even more difficult for young people to find that first job.