Teens Chasing Scarce U.S. Jobs Boosted by State Programs

As states raise their minimum wages, local officials are grappling with how to make their young populations less costly and more qualified to hire. Nationwide, unemployment for those ages 16 to 19 was 22.2 percent in October, compared with 7.3 percent for the overall population, according to Labor Department data.

“This has been the worst decade for teenage employment in our history,” said Andrew Sum, an economics professor at Northeastern University in Boston and director of its Center for Labor Market Studies. “The variations by gender, race and income are massively high.”

The jobless rate for black male teenagers, at 37.7 percent, is more than double that of their white female counterparts, the October numbers showed. Not having a job as a teenager can result in elevated odds of future unemployment and reduced lifetime earnings, research by Sum and others has found.