I want to start today by pointing to a post by Jonathan Chait at The New Republic. Chait attempts to refute the suggestion the Wall Street Journal put forth in an editorial claiming that the minimum wage increase was to blame for rising youth unemployment numbers. The chart to the left appeared in the Journal to augment the editorial board’s argument.
Chait draws on analysis from University of Michigan political scientist Brendan Nyhan explaining that the unemployment increase in ALL age demographics undoes the Journal’s argument. The Journal can’t seem to distinguish between correlation and causation, Nyhan writes.
While it’s certainly plausible that the increases in the minimum wage over the last three years have worsened teen unemployment, correlation doesn’t prove causation. Any variable that trended in one direction during the current economic downturn will be correlated with the unemployment rate among teens or any other group.
More importantly, unemployment is rising across the board, which cuts against the WSJ’s hypothesis that the minimum wage is having a particularly devastating effect on teens.
Though the Wall Street Journal might like to think they can downplay youth unemployment by practicing amateur science, they’ve made their ignorance quite apparent. It’s another example of a contribution to our political dialogue that misleads citizens in an attempt to assist the right-wing conspiracy.