Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour would make it harder for many teens to get or keep jobs, adding to the employment challenges they have faced during the pandemic, many economists say.

The changes would give raises to millions of workers and lift some out of poverty, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said in studies. But it also has found about 1.4 million workers would lose their jobs over the next four years, many of them teens. “Young, less-educated people would account for a disproportionate share of those reductions,” it said in a February report on the minimum-wage proposal.

When joblessness increases broadly, “those on the lowest rungs of the job ladder…are going to get squeezed out, and mostly that’s teens,” said Alicia Sasser Modestino, a Ph.D. economist at Northeastern University.

A $15-an-hour minimum wage could further harm teens’ job prospects because some employers would either cut back on staff or opt to hire someone with more experience, Dr. Modestino said. “It’s an even bigger impact on youth because of where they are in terms of the hierarchy of the job market,” she said.


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