At a minimum

The recession remains a force in Nevada, with the state suffering from the third worst unemployment rate -- 13.4 percent -- in the nation.

But the problem has been especially acute among young people.

The unemployment rate among Nevadans from 16 to 24 years of age was a whopping 21.8 percent for March, according to the state statistics.

Bill Anderson, a state economist, told the Reno Gazette-Journal that those seeking entry level jobs face intense competition for the limited available positions.

Well, yes. But why?

Recall that in 2006 Nevada voters -- at the urging of labor leaders and other leftists -- embraced a new law that tied the state's minimum wage to a number of factors, calling for annual adjustments in the pay floor.

Since then, the state's minimum wage has jumped more than 40 percent -- and will go up again on July 1 to $7.25 for those who have worker-paid health insurance. The minimum wage for those who have no such insurance will be $8.25. (The difference is a result of Big Labor's push to punish employers that don't provide health insurance.)

The fact that employers who might hire a handful of entry level workers now choose not to employ those whose skills don't merit the required pay should not be surprising.

Neither is the fact that organized labor could not care less, as their real goal in pushing higher minimum wage rates is to put inflationary pressure on the wages paid to their members and to shut out low-cost competition.

In the meantime, those jobs that might help a teenager or low-skilled adult get a foot in the door and develop the kind of respect for the responsibility and work ethic expected by most employers? Well, they're just collateral damage.

Nor is this all limited to Nevada. Last year, unemployment among American teenagers hit its highest rate -- 25.9 percent -- since World War II. At the same time, Democrats in Congress and their patrons in the labor movement were applauding increases in the federal minimum wage.

The Wall Street Journal notes that, "A study by researchers at Stanford found that those who do not work as teenagers have lower long-term wages and employability even after 10 years. A high-wage society can only come by making workers more productive, and by destroying starter jobs the minimum wage may reduce long-term earnings."

But apparently that's a small price to pay so American progessives can feel good about themselves.