I wonder if the following graph helps explain this.
For the third summer in a row, teens across the country are finding employment opportunities few and far between. While the economic downtown has limited job prospects in numerous industries, it’s been particularly hard on those with the least experience.
After falling by 20.79% from 2000 to 2007, the real federal minimum wage increased by 30.64% from 2008 to 2010. It has since declined only slightly, by 3.05% during 2011.
Yes, certainly the economy adversely effects employment at all levels, but it has persisted for the least skilled much longer. Raise the price of something and people buy less of it.