With 25 percent of its African-American residents jobless, Chicago has the highest black unemployment rate among the nation’s five most populous cities. Chicago’s rate is higher than Philadelphia’s 19 percent, Los Angeles’ 18 percent, Houston’s 15 percent and New York City’s 14 percent, based on 2013 U.S. Census figures.
Experts point to Chicago’s unique brand of residential segregation, among other factors. Almost 75 percent of black Chicagoans live in a community that’s at least 90 percent black, according to Census data. Blacks are about one-third of Chicago’s population. The unemployment rate for white Chicagoans is 7 percent; for Latinos, it’s 12 percent.
Michael Dawson, a leading scholar on politics and race, said Chicago’s “extreme segregation” deprives many residents of the predominantly black South and West Sides of adequate public transit and job networks.
“The way people get hired is through networks,” and most people’s social networks are predominately within their own race, he said.
For decades, the city’s economically marginalized black communities have been saddled with failing, underfunded public schools, high youth unemployment and low college graduation rates.
“You get neighborhoods where not only do you not have a job, you don’t know many other people who have one and can help you get one,” said Valerie Wilson, an economist who heads the Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy at the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank.
But segregation alone doesn’t explain the situation.
This blog originally appeared in the Chicago Reported and then reposted on In These Time on November 18, 2014. Reprinted with permission. http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/17378/chicago_ranks_fifth_in_highest_black_unemployment_rate
About the Author: Adeshina Emmanuel is a reporter for the Chicago Reporter.