Looking back over my own life, I realize now how lucky I was when I left home in 1948, at the age of 17, to become self-supporting. The unemployment rate for 16- and 17-year-old blacks at that time was under 10 percent. Inflation had made the minimum-wage law, passed ten years earlier, irrelevant. But it was only a matter of time before liberal compassion led to repeated increases in the minimum wage, to keep up with inflation. The annual unemployment rate for black teenagers has never been less than 20 percent in the past 50 years and has ranged as high as over 50 percent.
Brookings’s Gary Burtless uses his informed voice to explain that employers of low-skilled workers, far from being subsidized by taxpayers through most government welfare programs, pay higher labor costs because of such programs .