Study: Nearly half of young black Chicago men out of work, out of school

A new study paints a very bleak picture of unemployment among African Americans in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods.

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - A new study paints a very bleak picture of unemployment among African Americans in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods.

“For young people in Chicago, especially Blacks and Latinos, conditions of joblessness are chronic, concentrated and comparatively worse than every place else in the country,” said Teresa Cordova, the Director of the University of Illinois Chicago Great Cities Institute, which conducted the study.

The study was done for the Alternative Schools Network. Researchers looked at employment numbers from 2014 and found that 41 percent of all blacks ages 20-24 in Chicago were out of work and out of school compared to 27 percent in New York City and 29 percent in Los Angeles.

And the problem was particularly acute for black men in Chicago where the percentage was 47 percent.

“It's really difficult, I try, don't get me wrong. Like this hustling, I don't like hustling. I'm more of a job person,” said 25-year-old Frank Brown, who grew up in Englewood.

Amanda Whitlock is a program director at the Childrens Home and Aid agency in Englewood, which works to help young people in troubled family situations get help. The unemployment numbers don't surprise her. But she worries about 21 teens in her program who are about to lose critical help because the state budget impasse will force the program to close next month.

“Their chances for educational success, which will lead to inability to find stable employment in their future, is only going to contribute to those numbers,” Whitlock said.

The Alternative Schools Network and other advocacy groups are calling Illinois, Cook County and Chicago to commit to employing a combined 45-thousand young people this summer and year round.

The summer jobs programs have made a huge difference in many lives. One 25-year-old West Garfield Park resident said they helped him escape a life of gang banging and drug dealing.

“With having a summer job, I've gained so many skills such as time management, being able to know what it is to have a job, being able to get up early and go into a job,” said David Elim.

Frank Brown says people can't expect things to just be handed to them.

“Ain't nobody gonna do it for you. Gotta get off your own ass and do it for yourself,” he said.

The study found that those communities hardest hit were the same ones beset by high crime and escalating violence.

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