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.

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