GCI Staff Weigh In on African-American Unemployment in Illinois

Source: Lynne Sladky / AP.

At 6.8%, the national Black unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since 1972. As shown in a recent Chicago Tribune article, however, the unemployment rate for Black Americans is nearly double that of whites (3.7%). In Illinois, the Black unemployment rate is 10%, the highest of any state in the U.S.

As supported by recent GCI research, Illinois’ lagging economy has disproportionately affected its Black citizens. According to recent research led by GCI Director Teresa Córdova and Economic Development Planner Matt Wilson, over 40% of young Black men in Chicago between age 20 – 24 are unemployed and out of school. While this percent has declined over recent years (from 45.7% in 2014 to 42.8% in 2015), it speaks to the spatial isolation and lack of economic activity in many of Chicago’s South and West side neighborhoods, which rarely see the economic gains of the Loop and much of the region.

Córdova says she sees “little rays of hope” that should be built on, meaning: more job training and economic development activity as the economy expands. “If you live in the Loop, this feels really exciting. If you are still living on the corner of Loomis and 63rd, what’s it like over there?”

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