Here’s who can fill Chicago’s manufacturing needs

Photo by Crain’s file photo

Teresa Córdova, director of the Great Cities Institute at UIC, co-authored a Crain’s Chicago Business op-ed on the Chicago area’s manufacturing sector, its stabilization in recent years and the potential for future growth by creating pathways for unemployed Black and Latino young people. Cordova and Matt Wilson, an economic development planner at the institute, are two of three authors of The Century Foundation’s related report, “Revitalizing Manufacturing and Expanding Opportunities for Chicago’s Black and Latino Communities.”

Across the Chicago region, manufacturers are feeling better than they have in years. Orders are increasing, employment is growing and there’s an increasing recognition that the quality provided by local precision manufacturers is a better deal than offshoring production. But there’s one big hangup: Companies don’t have the workers they need to complete manufacturing’s renaissance.

A new report we co-authored, to be released this week, finds that nearly 1 in 3 workers in manufacturing in the metro area is over age 55. Although many companies have retained older, skilled workers, many more positions remain unfilled. Over the past year, there were 58,000 open manufacturing jobs, behind only health care, finance and professional services in need. In 2017, manufacturers posted two jobs for every person they hired.

Full Story from Crain’s Chicago Business »

Inclusion and Industry 4.0 Summit

Hear remarks from Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, other major regional leaders, and new research presented by The Century Foundation and the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) that examines the untapped potential of skills training programs and strong manufacturing jobs to expand economic opportunities for diverse communities.

Industry 4.0 envisions a fourth industrial revolution that harnesses the power of technology and aims to place diverse communities at the heart of this transformation.

To register, please click here.


Revitalizing Manufacturing and Expanding Opportunities for Chicago’s Black and Latino Communities

Teresa L. Córdova, Ph.D.
Matthew D. Wilson
Andrew Stettner, The Century Foundation


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.

Full Text (PDF) »

Illinois Budgeting For Results Public Hearings

On June 20th and 27th Great Cities Institute Senior Researcher Jim Lewis will be chairing the annual public hearings of the State of Illinois Budgeting for Results Commission. Lewis and Senator Heather Steans were appointed co-chairs of the Commission  by Governor Rauner.  Created seven years ago by statute to oversee the progress of budget reform and accountability under the new Budgeting For Results (BFR) law, the Commission is overseeing the implementation of cost/benefit analysis across all state departments.  The Budgeting for Results statute requires Illinois to move toward a budget process that begins with consensus on the next year’s revenue total, and then requires the state to prioritize its programming based on effectiveness of each program. Under Lewis’ leadership, the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget has begun implementing the “Results First” cost/benefit model, pioneered by Washington State and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

While the rigorous application of data analysis to state budget-making remains aspirational, BFR data has begun making its way into legislative committee deliberations and each state department now has a Chief Results Officer, so progress is being made. The June 21st hearing in Springfield will focus on evaluating criminal justice programming and the June 27th hearing in Chicago on how to assess health care programs. Hearings are public meetings and the Commission welcomes public comment.

The June 20th Springfield hearing will be held at the University of Illinois at Springfield, PAC Room C/D or by live stream from 1:30pm to 3:30pm.

The June 27th Chicago hearing will be held at JRTC, Suite 9-040, 100 West Randolph or by live stream from 1:30pm to 3:30pm.

Chicago is the 13th most segregated metro area in U.S., study finds

Source: Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune

GCI Senior Researcher James Lewis is quoted in a Chicago Tribune article that discusses a new study showing a gradual decline in housing segregation in the Chicago area. Lewis explains that the study raises several questions regarding the cause of the shift and whether the data accurately depicts a trend toward housing integration.

One question that the study did not answer, said Lewis, is whether decreases in segregation are fueled by economic reasons “or for personal inclination.” Another question, he said, is whether currently observed integration is the result of migration processes. A segregation index is, by definition, a snapshot in time, and a community that, at one moment, is integrated actually may be in the process of undergoing a dramatic demographic shift.

“My assessment of the social environment is that it’s a very, very long, slow process, but that it is very, very gradually getting better,” he said.

Full Story from the Chicago Tribune »

New Study: Youth Employment Rates Dropping For Black Men, Increasing For Hispanic Women

Teresa Córdova, director of the Great Cities Institute at UIC, is quoted in a CBS 2 Chicago article about a new GCI report, co-authored with Matt Wilson, that examines youth unemployment in Illinois. The report, which was commissioned by the Alternative Schools Network, unveils a discrepancy between youth employment rates of Black men and Hispanic women.

According to the research from the Great Cities Institute, the number of young black men ages 20 to 24 out of school and out of work dropped from a 2014 high of 16,156 to a 2016 low of 10,604.

Córdova says she’s not entirely sure why the trend differs for young Hispanic women. Those without jobs jumped from 5,216 to 7,566.

Córdova states that the overall message is, “There is a need for small business incubators that tap into talents and creativity of young people and turn those into marketable goods and services.”

Full Story from CBS Chicago »

WiFi? Street repairs? Parks? Cities let residents choose how to spend their tax dollars

Freehold Borough Councilmen Ron Griffiths and Kevin Kane at the site of the proposed pedestrian bridge over Lake Topanemus, Freehold, NJ. Citizens voted to fund the building of the bridge through the process of participatory budgeting.   Source: Beverly Schaefer.

Thea Crum, director of the Neighborhoods Initiative at the Great Cities Institute at UIC, is quoted in a Philadelphia Inquirer article about the process of participatory budgeting. Crum discusses one of the benefits of formal participatory budgeting by local governments. Philadelphia recently began a Participatory Budgeting campaign to allocate funds for sidewalk repair and pedestrian infrastructure, among other initiatives, and drew inspiration from Chicago’s active Participatory Budgeting Project.

Chicago was the first to formalize participatory budgeting in the United States in 2009, according to the nonprofit advocacy group Participatory Budgeting Project, which gives outreach materials and technical assistance to communities.

“Often, when people think about beginning new programs, they think about looking for new resources,” said Thea Crum, director of the Neighborhoods Initiative at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Great Cities Institute, a partner of Participatory Budgeting Chicago. “One of the great things about PB is it really is just shifting how decisions are made about the same pot of money.”

Full Story from the Philadelphia Inquirer »

The Enduring Impact of Industrial Restructuring on Youth Employment

Our report, Industrial Restructuring and the Continuing Impact on Youth Employment in Illinois was released Monday at a press conference at Innovation High School of Arts Integration.  Below are our comments from the press conference:

Amidst the remnants of an “old economy” are the many marginalized workers who continue to feel the impacts of industrial restructuring and whose avenues into the “new economy” are either blocked or limited.

This report exposes conditions of chronic and concentrated joblessness remain entrenched, particularly for African Americans and that there are parts of Illinois that are worse than in Chicago and Cook County.

This report finds that:

In every age group and every geography, African Americans had the highest rates of joblessness and out of school and out work young people.

There are regions within Illinois where, since 1980, there is an increase in poverty and full time low wage employment and for young people throughout Illinois, the impacts of chronic joblessness remain a deep-rooted issue.

Middle class occupations are leaving medium-sized cities and rural areas as income inequalities grow.

Economies of mid-sized cities and rural areas are not incorporating young people into the workforce

This report also examined four counties in Illinois as case studies including Peoria, Tazewell, Kankakee, and Sangamon. In each of these counties, for the total population, poverty levels increased.  In Peoria individuals below the poverty level went from 9.9% in 1980 to 17.6%; In Tazewell, it went from 5.5% to 8.0%; Kankakee showed an increase in poverty from 12.9% to 15.4%; and in Sangamon from 9% to 15%

In the ratios of household income to poverty, the data for these same counties, shows a shrinking middle class and an increasing gap between the lowest and highest incomes.

In our case study counties, there is an increase in the proportion of full time employees in low wage industries

For young people, 20-24, for the 2012-2016 five-year estimates, there are parts of Illinois that showed higher rates of joblessness than did Chicago or Cook County.  Joblessness and Out of School and Out of Work rates were comparatively worse in areas of south, west, and Central Illinois compared to Cook County.

For Blacks, the out of school and out of work rates for 20 to 24-year old in Chicago, Cook County, the U.S. and Illinois as a whole improved substantially, though still an issue. However, there are parts of south, west and central Illinois that remain high and have out of school and out of work rates as high as 63.6%.

For Latinos in Chicago and Cook County, out of school and out of work rates increased, especially for females.

Teen employment in mid-sized cities and rural areas declined substantially.

In an economy which is susceptible to fluctuations, there are certain marginalized groups and geographic locations, that are particularly vulnerable to structural shifts in the economy, requiring, therefore, focused efforts to pursue policies that create opportunities for more people in more places to participate in the economy as it evolves.

We hope that this report is yet another clarion call for a broad-based attack on poverty and racial disparities in access to economic and educational opportunities.

Speaking at the press event hosted by Alternative Schools Network besides GCI Director, were Congressman Danny Davis, Democratic Congressional Candidate and Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia, along with Alma Anaya, Democratic Candidate for Cook County Commissioner.  Also attending were directors of organizations that have been co-sponsors for these employment reports produced by GCI for Alternative Schools Network, including Chicago Area Project, Westside Health Authority, Instituto del Progreso Latino. There were also young people from Innovation High School.

We had the opportunity to answer questions from the press and used the opportunity to emphasize job training, small business incubators, and preparation for opportunities in advanced manufacturing.  Given how creative young people are and given the character of the evolving economy, we also emphasized the importance of providing the conditions for innovation to spawn.

We also had a question about who we wanted the report to reach – who we wanted to take action. Our response:  everybody – including policy makers at the federal, state and local levels and the corporate sector.  We also emphasized that we thought it was important for more resources to be directed to those on the ground who, for years, have been working with young people to be connected, e.g. including helping them to get job ready.  As one director said to us, “Help the folks that know what they are doing to connect people to jobs.”

Unemployment rate for Chicago’s black youth improves: report

In Peoria, Kankakee, Tazewell and Sangamon counties, the decline of good-paying manufacturing jobs and the rise of low-wage retail jobs have changed the employment prospects of youths and adults. (David Paul Morris / Bloomberg)

The Chicago Tribune reports on Great Cities Institute’s new report, Industrial Restructuring and the Continuing Impact on Youth Employment in IllinoisThe report is the latest in a series on youth unemployment commissioned by Alternative Schools Network.

A new report on youth unemployment in Illinois offers some good news: The alarmingly high rate of young black men and women in Chicago who are neither working nor in school dropped markedly between 2014 and 2016 as the economy continued its recovery from the Great Recession.

But there is plenty of bad news, as white and Hispanic women in Chicago saw their rates of disconnection from work and school climb. And researchers for the first time examined youth joblessness in mostly white downstate areas, finding pockets of rural Illinois where the crisis is particularly severe.

Full Story from Chicago Tribune »

Industrial Restructuring and the Continuing Impact on Youth Employment in Illinois

Matthew D. Wilson
Teresa L. Córdova, Ph.D.


Since 2016, the Great Cities Institute (GCI) has produced a series of reports for the Alternative Schools Network that have documented employment and related challenges that young people face. These reports have primarily focused on Chicago and Cook County with comparisons to similar sized cities, counties, Illinois, and the U.S. In 2017, GCI’s report, Abandoned in their Neighborhoods: Youth Joblessness amidst the Flight of Industry and Opportunity focused on changes in the Chicago economy that have impacted the economic circumstances of young people. Factors such as industrial restructuring, the movement of jobs from neighborhoods, and the impact of the Great Recession help explain present declining employment of young people.

We now turn our focus to analyze employment conditions for young people in areas throughout the state of Illinois. This report is unique in that it provides a more detailed view of youth jobless and jobless and out of school data throughout the state of Illinois than what has been analyzed to date and has findings that have implications for the direction of future policy aimed at improving employment conditions for young people in Illinois and the economy more broadly.

This report Industrial Restructuring and the Continuing Impact on Youth Employment in Illinois, also commissioned by the Alternative Schools Network, updates the following figures: out of work; out of school and out of work; and out of school and out of work with no high school diploma figures for Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, and the U.S. and examines out of work; and out of school and out of work figures in subsections of Illinois. Additionally, data from four Illinois counties are examined as case studies to observe economic transformations in the sectors of the economy in these counties over time, young people’s position in the economy, and the growing poverty in these areas since 1980.

Full Text (PDF) »