This report investigates a region—the Chicago metropolitan area and surrounding communities—where manufacturing was once the largest sector of the economy. The processes of economic restructuring that began in the late 1970s resulted in deindustrialization that left behind massive numbers of jobless residents and disinvested neighborhoods that continue to display the legacy of decline. In the aftermath, populations that once had a high concentration of their workforce in manufacturing have found themselves in a changing economy where most occupations are becoming increasingly technical and require high levels of education or training.
But after its long period of job loss across the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first, the manufacturing sector has in recent years shown stability and potential for growth and reemergence. With that growth and potential in mind, this report explores manufacturing’s significance in the Chicago region and the sector’s potential to meet the needs of the jobless, in particular jobless black and Latino young people who have not received any post-high school education. Underpinning this analysis is the belief that Chicago’s disinvested communities deserve access to quality jobs with good wages, and that the manufacturing sector, through inclusion, has the potential to provide avenues to promote those goals.
This report is in partnership with the Great Cities Institute and The Century Foundation’s Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative.
Teresa L. Córdova, Ph.D.,
Matthew D. Wilson,
The Century Foundation.