Townhall.com | Jerry Bowyer | Jun. 9, 2008
It wasn’t Bush, it wasn’t greedy corporations, or free trade, or history’s most over-predicted recession. It was not the oil companies, income inequality, or the excesses of cowboy capitalism. None of these things caused the unemployment rate to jump a half a percentage point in one month.
Ask yourself a few questions: Why did unemployment surge at a time when unemployment compensation claims are historically low? More to the point, how could unemployment spike this much without a coinciding spike in corporate lay-offs?
The answer to all of these questions is same: because very few people lost jobs last month. This huge jump in the size of the unemployed comes from new entrants to the economy – hundreds of thousands of them. In short, well over 600,000 people who were not job seekers in April became job seekers in May. And who starts looking for work at the end of Spring? That’s right – students. Hundreds of thousands of students are looking for work right now, and they’re not finding it.
Congress is to blame. Last year Congressional Democrats (along with some Stockholm-Syndromed Republicans) passed the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, which started a phased hike of the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25. Free market economists warned them that this would increase unemployment – that rapid increases in unemployment compensation hit teens and minorities the hardest. But the class-warriors are running the people’s house now, and they would hear none of that, so they took to the floor, let loose the dogs of demagoguery, and saddled America’s pizza parlors, municipal swimming pools, house painting businesses and lawn mowing services with a huge cost increase.
Now, we see the perfectly logical outcome of wage controls – rising unemployment among the most economically vulnerable. The chart above tells the story: Friday’s unemployment spike occurred overwhelmingly among teenagers, and secondarily among African Americans. Just like we said it would. A kid who is at entry level of job skills may be a good deal at 5 bucks an hour, but not at 7. Our anointed leaders gets to glory in their generosity (with other people’s money) and just so long as very few people in the media know that a demand curve slopes downward (a good bet, there), no one calls them on it.
This summer the left will make political lemonade out of a tough student job market. Heck, it may provide a small army of angry unemployed youth to man the campaign, hungry for hope and (loose) change, never once realizing that they’re working to entrench the leftie war on business which left them jobless this summer in the first place.
Mr. Bowyer is chief economist of BenchMark Financial Network and a CNBC contributor.
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Reprinted by permission. This article originally appeared on Townhall.com.