The Hospitality Association says a sharp rise in youth unemployment can be partly explained by the level of the minimum wage deterring employers from hiring young people.
Figures from the third quarter of 2010 show 19.4% of people aged between 15 and 24 are unemployed. The rate is the highest it has been since 1992.
Hospitality Association chief executive Bruce Robertson says the minimum wage, now at $12.75 an hour, is a major disincentive to hiring younger staff.
He says if employers are opting to hire people with experience, if they can find them, because they're productive from the start.