The black teen unemployment rate spiked to 38% in January. The dramatic increase represented almost a 10% increase over December's 35.5% unemployment rate. Overall, the teen unemployment rate for all races was 21%, a modest increase from December.
This increase in teen unemployment comes as President Obama and Democrats have made a minimum wage hike the central plank of their economic agenda. Only 2% of hourly workers in the US earn the minimum wage, but the overwhelming majority of teen workers begin work earning the minimum wage. While minimum wage hikes don't lead to many job losses in the overall economy, they can have a large effect among teen workers. The minimum wage, after all, is simply a starting wage.