Unfortunately the Left has more or less abandoned young men as a group. Hence their ludicrous defence of a high and rising minimum wage. Apparently a high minimum wage is good because it boosts aggregate demand in the economy. But the odd thing is they never take their argument to its logical conclusion: why not raise the minimum wage to €50 an hour if its macro-economic benefits are so obvious? The reality is that employers don't hire unskilled, inexperienced staff on the basis of aggregate demand assumptions. They hire them on the basis of micro-economic assumptions about affordability and productivity. Increasing the minimum wage increases the risk an employer takes in incurring the cost of additional staff. And right now employers are a risk-averse lot. I was going to add 'obviously' only it doesn't seem that obvious to the powers-that-be.
The real challenge facing the Government right now is how to a) stop the haemorrhage of young people caused by emigration and b) prevent a generation of young men losing out on vital work experience at a crucial stage in their lives. For as the Fraser Institute observes:
Lost job opportunities for young people are especially unfortunate given that entry-level jobs, which generally pay the minimum wage, are a stepping stone to better paid employment. These jobs enable workers to develop skills and gain experience that ultimately lead to higher productivity and wages. In fact, research shows that after one year, more than 60 per cent of minimum wage workers earn more, with a typical wage gain of about 20 per cent. After two years, the percentage of workers earning more than the minimum wage increases to more than 80 per cent.But that happy outcome isn't going to happen in Ireland if our young men and women have emigrated because they have become unaffordable and therefore unemployable thanks to the minimum wage...
I suggest an alternative solution. Simply remove all regulations in relation to wage rates (and other taxes on labour such as employers' PRSI) in the economy for a period of, say, three years. If at any time in that period the unemployment rate falls below 10% then restore the regulations if that's what the electorate wants. But in the meantime stop the tax on young men.