Florida in top 10 for another economic standard: Teen-age unemploymentby John Kennedy | June 13th, 2011
Gov. Rick Scott touts how Florida’s unemployment rate has dropped since he took office in January, to where April’s latest reading puts it at 10.8 percent — the state’s lowest jobless level in two years.
But a report issued Monday by the Washington, D.C., research organization, Employment Policies Institute, paints a dark picture for teen-age employment in Florida, putting the Sunshine State in the top 10 for out-of-work youth.
About 29 percent of Florida teens can’t find jobs — 5 percent higher than the national average, EPI said.
“Teens are missing out on summer jobs where they can learn valuable skills not taught in the classroom,” said Michael Saltsman, an EPI research fellow. “If policymakers at the state and federal level want to avoid a perpetual summer employment crisis for young adults, they should consider policies that create jobs—not destroy them.”
EPI blames the teen-age jobless levels on the rising minimum wage. In Florida, that went up 6 cents on June 1 to $7.31/hour.
For his part, Scott is no fan of the minimum wage. Legislation (HB 1425) pushed by Rep. John Tobia, R-Melbourne, would have changed the way the state calculates the standard, but the measure failed to win approval.
The June 1 increase came only after it was ordered by a Leon County judge. Workers and groups representing low-wage employees claimed Florida’s Agency for Workforce Innovation violated the state constitution by keeping minimum wage at the $7.25 federal rate, where it was last year, instead of raising it to account for inflation.
Voters passed an amendment in 2004 that increases the state minimum wage with inflation.