FIrst off, as you pointed out, the economy is fucked.
Secondly, you are young, employers want someone who is desperate to get a job, to pay the bills. They want someone who they can crush and abuse and they know that the employee can't afford to walk. Most employers don't take on their legal responsibilities, they will put you in illegal working conditions, not pay you your due wage, "forget" to give you your break and so on and so forth. As a young chappie, you are more likely to walk.
Thirdly, do you have much experience? Places wont employ you unless you do. How do you get experience if nowhere will employ you? Well, my friend, I am glad you asked...
Fourthly, it's who you know. Your first few jobs you will get because you know a boss in the factory or shop. In fact, job advertisements are usually for show, usually a company has picked who they want and wish to make the process seem legal.
Finally, you need to make them believe that their shitty company or the State (if it be a government job) is your heart and soul. Literally. Unless you want to spend your life working for them, they don't want you. And yes, there are sad fuckers out there who will tow every line for minimum wage.
My boss gets minimum wage too. She routinely hauls my ass for such things as not smiling (it nearly led to a disciplinary, keep in mind that I suffer from Clinical Depression) and speaking ill of an area manager in my private time (she actually told then guy what I said word for word).