A rather interesting statistic came out last week, one that caught my eye. I watched to see if it would catch on, but no one seems to be talking about it.
That’s not surprising; there are a lot of pitfalls around even discussing the ramifications.
But I gave up respecting sacred cows a long, long time ago.
Apparently, in Washington, DC, the teen unemployment rate was around 50.1%. That means that not even half the teenagers looking for work in the nations’ capitol can find jobs.
I see two factors at play here — and the first feeds the second.
First up, it’s pretty much acknowledged that the DC public schools are the worst in the nation. This is despite DC having the highest per capita expenditures per student — something that people who say the solution to bad schools is to spend more money on education don’t like to discuss. Well, bad schools by definition produce bad graduates and worse dropouts. This is the work pool that DC employers have to draw upon.
Further, DC has set the minimum wage at $8.67 an hour. Employers can pay workers age 14 and 15 as little as $7.37 an hour, but that’s still slightly above the federal minimum wage.
Here’s the harsh truth:
Think of the average product of the DC school system. What the hell can they do that’s worth paying them that much an hour? And a dropout — if they couldn’t even cut the incredibly crappy DC school system, why take the risk on hiring them on?
Toss in an unemployment rate of 10.4% among the general population, and it’s clear that there are plenty of people with at least a minimal employment record available for those same jobs. Only the blindest optimist (or brain-dead liberal) would take teenagers over adults for most jobs — especially in the incredibly shaky economy in the never-that-well-managed District.
Now, I’m not blaming the teens. The deck’s heavily stacked against them. But there are two things that can be done to help — maybe not them so much, but the ones coming up behind them.
1) Fix the DC schools. They’ve been the laboratories for liberal theories and policies on education, and the result has produced the worst school system in the nation. Introduce school choice, expand charter schools, and smash the hell out of the public sector unions that make damned sure their members get theirs and screw the students.
2) Cut the minimum wage down to the federal level. I dunno how much more likely an employer is to take a chance on a teenager at $7.25 an hour, but it’s gotta be better than $8.67 an hour — and every little bit helps.
In the meantime… just another lost generation, thanks to liberal social, economic, educational, and political philosophies. I dunno what we can do for them now. But we can at least try to make sure there the last ones.