Teens, Employment, and the Minimum Wage

More than 104,000 teens (16- to 19-year-olds) work and actively contribute to the Massachusetts economy. As working teens, they learn job skills and gain experience and responsibility. Many working teens also play important roles in helping meet financial needs for not only their families but also for themselves, like paying for college. Most teen workers (about 82 percent) earn near or at the minimum wage, which as of January 2017 was $11 an hour – finalizing a three-year phase-in of an $11 an hour minimum wage in Massachusetts. Currently, teens make up 12 percent of minimum wage earners. This brief looks at who teen workers are, their contributions to family income, how a subminimum wage could affect teen workers, and whether there have been adverse effects on teen employment from minimum wage increases.