“Minimum wage, maximum derp”

Unemployment among British 16- and 17-year-olds suddenly began to surge after 2005. “It’s ‘difficult to explain’ … right. A total mystery. I can’t think What might have caused it.” [BritMouse via Scott Sumner.EconLog]

More: Don Boudreaux. “A poor way to reduce poverty” [Joseph Sabia, Cato Tax and Budget Bulletin, PDF] And don’t hold back, SmarterTimes, tell us what you think re: New York Times hand-wringing on the subject.


  • Minimum wage for teenagers has risen more than once over the last decade, and there have been multiple spikes, including ones in both 2009 and 2010. In 2009, the minimum wage for minors only rose 4 cents over the year before, and 2010 only saw an increase of 7 cents. So while that may be one partial explanation, when you look at all the data, it’s obviously not the whole picture.

  • I agree, Gina. There are a million variables at play. Could this be a factor? Of course. There are not many economists – liberal or conservative – who do not allow for the possibility that a increase in minimum wage can adversely impact employment for some teenagers who might not have skills that are worth minimum wage to an employer because they are so inexperienced and young. But I think it might be oversimplifying to bundle the mass of this increase on a minimum wage hike.