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Today’s numbers are bleak

Friday, Jan 17, 2014

* From the Chicago Urban League…

* While the overall trend of dropping employment rates for all race-ethnic groups continued through 2012, Black teens had the lowest employment rates across all geographic areas.

    * Nationally, the employment rate of Black teens has sustained a declining trajectory dropping from 25% employed in 2006 to 18% in 2012 and faring worse than their Hispanic and White peers.

    * In 2012, only 16 out of 100 Black teens in Illinois were employed and only 11 out of 100 Black teens in the city of Chicago were employed.

* Black male teens, in particular, faced challenges in their ability to obtain employment in the U.S., Illinois and the city of Chicago.

    * Black male teens in Chicago experienced the bleakest employment rates with the number of Black male teens with jobs dropping from 10% in 2006 to 8% in 2012. A startling 92% of all Black males ages 16-19 in Chicago were jobless in 2012.

* Minority, low-income teens continued to face more challenges in obtaining employment with Blacks and Hispanics experiencing significantly lower rates of employment than other race-ethnic groups.

    * Across the nation in 2012, only 13% of Black teens from low-income households were employed and slightly less than 16% of low-income Hispanic teens had jobs.

    * In Illinois less than 9% of Black teens living in low-income households (< $20,000) and only 13% of Black teens living in households with an income between $20,000-$39,000 were employed in 2012.

    * In Chicago in 2012, only six out of 100 Black teens from low-income households (<$20,000) were employed; equating to 94% of low-income, Black teens were jobless.

    * Black male teens from low-income households had the lowest employment rate of all groups. Only 4% of Black male teens from low-income households in Chicago were employed in 2012.

* While not as steep of a decline as teens, young adults (20-24 years old) in Illinois and the city of Chicago also experienced great difficulty finding jobs and a persistent decline from 2006 to 2012. Males, Blacks, and city of Chicago residents 20-24 years of age were the most significantly impacted young adults.


* In 2012, teens in the city of Chicago (19%) had worse employment rates than peers statewide (27%).

    * Only 11% of all Black teens in the city of Chicago were employed in 2012.

    * Only 11% of low- to mid- income household ($20,000 - $40,000) Black teens in the city of Chicago held a job in 2012; 89% were jobless.

    * Only 6% of all low-income (< $20,000) Black teens in the city of Chicago were employed in 2012.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Laissez Faire - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 10:31 am:

    If only the minimum wage was higher?

  2. - Robert the Bruce - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 10:41 am:

    wow, 92%. I knew the numbers were bad, but not that bad.

    Rich, was this from a press release? I tried Urban League’s web site, probably not very well, but didn’t see it linked from their homepage

  3. - countyline - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 10:42 am:

    Yeah…that’ll do it…not.

  4. - John A Logan - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 10:47 am:

    The collapse of the African American Family unit has more to do with those numbers than anything else.

  5. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 10:47 am:

    Yeah, that’s depressing. And you wonder why some kids on the West Side peddle heroin and blow on the streets to suburbanites.

    One of Obama’s great failures was to not push for a CCC program with the other emergency measures after the bubble burst.

    So much work with long-term benefits could have been accomplished and these kids could have developed the pride that comes with a job well-done.

  6. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 10:49 am:

    - John A Logan -,

    Seems to be an American issue too…

    Hovering around (over/at/under) 50% of marriages ending in divorce, wouldn’t you say its an overall societial problem?

  7. - Anonymous - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 10:59 am:

    Mr. Logan, while I understand that the decline of the family unit may contribute to unemployment, which fact(s) are you looking to in making such a broad statement?

    It would seem that job availability is a greater issue.

  8. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 11:10 am:

    \===The collapse of the African American Family unit has more to do with those numbers===

    The 1970s called, it wants its conservative argument back.

  9. - Wendy C - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 11:16 am:

    As soon as the Tribune sees this they’ll be writing another editorial blaming public school teachers.

  10. - Angry Republican - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 11:20 am:

    sorry Rich, you’re off by a few years. The prominent liberal Patrick Moynihan made the same argument in 1965

  11. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 11:26 am:

    What’s th explanation for eastern Kentucky?

  12. - lake county democrat - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 11:32 am:

    Clearly the answer is more low skilled immigration. Honest progressives who have looked at the research (or just witnessed the jobs that poor African-Americans used to take to escape poverty become dominated by illegal immigrants and their subsequent birthright-citizen generations) know what a threat the worst-of-both-worlds compromise Gang of Eight bill is.

  13. - BoBo - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 11:32 am:

    Those are some horrible numbers. Do they include kids going to school. I mean that is their job. I have a 17 year old that I won’t let get a job because I want him to concentrate on school.

  14. - lake county democrat - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 11:34 am:

    Rich, that’s shameful - this argument is raised by conservatives today all the time, and some moderates and liberals. Even in the 1970s, Pat Moyniham sounded the same alarm and he was not a conservative (though he was an independent thinking progressive). I think conservatives over-emphasize this argument, but it’s absolutely true that the most important thing a teenage girl can do to escape poverty is NOT to become an unwed mother.

  15. - lake county democrat - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 11:37 am:

    The only time in my generation’s lifetime that African-Americans closed the economic gap with whites was the 1990’s, a time of significant demand across the job spectrum (including low skilled jobs). This needs to be replicated again, possibly in-part by “workfare” type programs (once favored by Jesse Jackson). Michael Lind and Mickey Kaus, “contrarian liberals” have some thought provoking suggestions in this area as well.

  16. - Cassandra - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 11:42 am:

    Jobs are ok for teens but education is better. For teens, its fine to work at the local fast food place for extra money, but much better to get into an educational program which will prepare you for a real job, often, by your early to mid twenties depending on your field.

    Frankly, I’ve never seen the point in getting a job for the sake of a job. My own kids were required to do something productive during the summer during their teen years, but not necessarily work. Yes, I could afford it. But there is plenty of job training and education money sloshing around at various levels of government. Put the teens in an educational program not the local McD. Isn’t bemoaning the lack of fast food jobs a way of saying we’ve given up on them.

  17. - John A Logan - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 11:43 am:

    I called the 1970’s and shipped my conservative argument back. After some thought, I have changed my mind, the collapse of the African American Family unit has nothing to do with the numbers reported above. We just need more jobs like Anonymous said above. It amazing how quickly I realize the error of my ways when I try to comment with the great minds of our time.

  18. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 11:45 am:

    ===sorry Rich, you’re off by a few years. The prominent liberal Patrick Moynihan made the same argument in 1965===

    “Black poverty fell quickly between 1959 and 1969, from 55.1 percent to 32.2 percent.”

  19. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 11:49 am:

    ===The only time in my generation’s lifetime that African-Americans closed the economic gap with whites was the 1990’s===

    See above.

    Also: “The wealth gap between minorities and whites has not improved over the past three decades,” reports the Urban Institute. “From 1983 to 2010, average family wealth for whites has been about six times that of blacks and Hispanics — the gap in actual dollars growing as average wealth increased for both groups.”

  20. - Generation X - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 11:49 am:

  21. - Cook County Commoner - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    Lake County Demo noted that the last time African-Americans closed the economic gap with whites was the 1990’s.
    Coincidentally, this era experienced the highest labor participation rate since 1948 according to the Bureau of Labor Standards. We’re on the down side of the bell curve now with no indication of a meaningful up-tick through 2050, according to a St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank study (
    The African-American community is carrying the brunt of this trend, but it apparently cuts across all demographics.
    Seems to me the pols need to start discussing a profound change in the US work place, ie. low demand (need) for labor due to technology and globalization.

  22. - Steve - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 12:02 pm:

    How can a city run by Democrats since 1931 have these numbers??? Are the pro-minimum wage people so sure raising the minimum wage is going to help these numbers???

  23. - Earnest - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 12:02 pm:

    If I may snark on a dreary Friday: taxes and regulation are the problem. Reduce the size of government so that business does better and then the benevolent free market will take care of these problems.

  24. - Makandadawg - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 12:12 pm:

    All the youth of Illinois, no mater where they live or their ethnicity need help finding and keeping jobs. The role of government is to move us forward and solve this problem. If we elect a governor who will run our state like a business the young people will never get a job.

  25. - Steve - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 12:37 pm:

    Economic growth in Illinois would help. Even national publications are taking notice.

  26. - dupage dan - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 12:39 pm:

    I agree with Cassandra. Education is really the key here. While we would all be happy if teenagers in the city had access to jobs, that ain’t the path to long term financial success and security - school is. With the limited resources available, I think the focus should be on getting the kids to come to school, getting the to stay in school and getting them to graduation and beyond - vocational/college, etc.

    I just got finished reading a book about the CCC camp in Devil’s Lake, WI. I used to go there when I was in the Boy Scouts in the last century. We stayed at the old CCC barracks there. I have learned some about the CCC but this book really fleshed out the whole history of that camp that I was only dimly aware. It would be nice of such a program could be put into place to assist in this regard. It was used to assist folks already graduated from high school and they learned all sorts of things including how to get along with each other and with authority figures.

    I doubt there is the political impetus or will to create such a program - that ship may have already sailed. Whether it would work given the demographics of the population would also be a challenge. I remember some of the “get young folks out of the ghetto” programs of the 60s. I was involved with some of them. Feel good stuff, mostly - limited impact in the long run.

  27. - Downstater - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 12:53 pm:

    The poverty rate for all African Americans in 2012 was 28.1% which is an increase from 25.5% in 2005. Actually the poverty rate increased between 2005 and 2012 for every demographic of African Americans except those ages 65 and over who experienced a decrease from 21.2% to 19%. Black families with children under 18 headed by a single mother have the highest rate of poverty at 47.5 compared to only 8.4% percent of married-couple Black families. African American. Compared with the 72 percent in our communities, 17 percent of Asians, 29 percent of whites, 53 percent of Hispanics and 66 percent of Native Americans were born to unwed mothers.
    These African American youngsters born to mothers out of wedlock don’t stand a chance. Another failed government policy.

  28. - Demoralized - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 12:59 pm:

    ==Another failed government policy.==

    You’re going to have to be a bit more specific.

  29. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 1:11 pm:

    –Economic growth in Illinois would help. Even national publications are taking notice.

    Texas economy is growing for the same reason as North Dakota’s — shale oil.

    It’s a highly regulated industry in Texas. The Texas Railroad Commission tells you where you can drill and how much you can take out of the ground every month.

    Texas was also helped by strict regulations on predatory lending and home equity loans that cushioned the blow of the housing collapse.

    Still, black teen unemployment is a huge problem in Texas, too.

    As far as Michael Barone goes, he’s a hopeless hack. This is the big brain that predicted Romney would win with 315 electoral votes.

    He was only off by 109.

  30. - Keyser Soze - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 1:44 pm:

    Oswego and John A; you are both right. And, if anyone really likes youth unemployment then by all means raise the minimum wage.

  31. - lake county democrat - Friday, Jan 17, 14 @ 2:14 pm:

    Rich - though small, I think the chart that applies to my measure (the African-American income gap) shows it shrinking in the mid ’90s. Certainly nothing compared to the other “exponential” like curves such as in the 2000s. Re the first link: no argument that we’ve had economic growth spurts that “lifted all boats,” just that they lifted whites more (and recessions sunk blacks more)

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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