Allen West: Black youth overlooked by economic boom

Former Congressman Allen West notes the economic boom that has begun, and then notes how it is not including the black youth of our nation. There are numerous reasons for this and one of the main issues is the effect that the $15/hour minimum wage is having on entry level jobs. Mr. West says the emphasis is in the wrong place. How do you prepare them for $50,000/year positions? Read on.

As Written By Allen West for Fox News:

The Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike last week and indications of more to come are just the latest signs the economy is rolling. Conventional measures of unemployment are hovering near a generational low and the stock market is at a record high.

But these strong economic and labor market indicators overlook at least one demographic that is still struggling: black youth. The black youth unemployment rate increased to 25 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, up 11 percent over the same period the year before. (White youth unemployment is roughly half that rate at 13 percent and falling.)

The situation is much worse in major American cities. In Philadelphia, the current black youth unemployment rate is 27 percent. In Baltimore, it’s 30 percent. In New York City, 33 percent. In Los Angeles County and metro Atlanta, where I grew up, it’s 35 percent. And in our nation’s capital of Washington, D.C., the black youth unemployment rate is currently an eye-watering 41 percent. In black neighborhood’s in these cities the rate regularly exceeds 50 percent.

There are various cultural, economic and social factors behind this lack of opportunity for black youth. These include broken public schools and broken homes. The lack of opportunity goes beyond just a paycheck; idle hands have contributed to growing crime rates.

According to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, violent crime is up significantly in major cities nationwide. A Wall Street Journal survey finds that 16 of the 20 largest police departments reported a homicide increase in 2016. And of the four cities that decreased, three had homicide increases above 50 percent in 2015. In a vicious cycle, this crime chases away budding economic activity and opportunity. As President Trump articulated in his address to the joint session of Congress: “In order to break the cycle of poverty, we must first break the cycle of violence.”

But a contributing factor to the lack of opportunity for young black job-seekers is the dramatic minimum wage increases sweeping the country that outlaw employment below a certain wage rate. According to a recent San Francisco Federal Reserve review of minimum wage research, wage hikes cause “job loss for the least-skilled workers — with possibly larger adverse effects than earlier research suggested.” Black youth often get hit by these employment barriers the hardest because they have the least skills on the job market.

While the fight for a higher wage floor may be well-intended, public policy should focus on raising the wage ceiling for average Americans to a place where they can live a fulfilling life and provide for their families. In other words, policymakers should try to raise the wage ceiling for average Americans by fighting for……

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