Teen Joblessness and Illegal Immigration
By Eric Ruark, FAIR Director of Research
Reuters reported on Monday that a recent study has found that only one in four U.S. teenagers will find work during the summer months of 2011. This is a record low, according to Reuters, which also reported that in Chicago the unemployment rate for 16 to 19 year old is close to 90%, which may result in "a rise in street violence."
The Reuters article cites two reasons for the dearth of employment opportunities for American's youth: a poor job market and a loss of federal funding. Immigration is not mentioned as a factor, even though economists have shown that illegal aliens directly compete with teenagers for jobs. Curiously, Reuters ignored the immigration angle even though the statistics they are reporting on were generated by Andrew Sum, a Professor of Economics at Northeastern University, whose academic work has shown a direct correlation between the increased presence of low-skilled immigrant workers and rising teenage unemployment.
Many jobs held by illegal aliens, such as in the fast food industry or doing seasonal work, were once entry level jobs that introduced teenagers to the labor market and gave them valuable work experience. High rates of unemployment for teenagers is an especially troubling trend because, as Sum has pointed out in earlier studies, teens who do not enter the job market continue to remain unemployed throughout much of their adult lives, and earn lower wages when they do work. They are also more likely to drop out of high school and have a much higher rate of teen pregnancy and criminal activity.