The Crusader Newspaper Group

Unemployment soaring in 21 Chicago Black neighborhoods

Unemployment is skyrocketing in Black Chicago, where 21 Black neighborhoods have unemployment rates that are eight times higher than the national average according to data released by Crain’s Chicago Business.

The most hard-hit neighborhood is Riverdale on the Far South Side, where unemployment is 10 times higher than the national average.

The news comes as employers in Chicago and across the country struggle to fill an unprecedented number of job openings. Despite the sizzling job market, unemployment continues to plague many Black job seekers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate in April was 3.6 percent. For white Americans, it was 3.2 percent that month and 5.9 percent for Black Americans.

But in Black Chicago, the numbers are much, much higher.

A Crusader review of unemployment data shows that 23 Black neighborhoods have unemployment rates in the double digits. Eighteen of those neighborhoods have unemployment rates above 15 percent. Nine had unemployment rates over 19 percent in April.

Most of the high unemployment rates occurred in neighborhoods on Chicago’s South Side, where poverty and disinvestment have been been a problem for decades.

Riverdale had the highest unemployment rate at 29.9 percent. In Englewood, 24.9 percent of its residents do not have a job. In neighboring West Englewood, 24.5 percent of residents are out of work.

In West Pullman, the unemployment rate is 20.7 percent. In Bronzeville’s Oakland neighborhood the unemployment rate is 19.9 percent and in Greater Grand Crossing it’s 19.8 percent.

On Chicago’s West Side, West Garfield Park had the highest unemployment rate at 23.8 percent. In East Garfield Park, the unemployment was lower at 19 percent.

According to the nonprofit organization Equity and Transformation, almost 80 percent of Black men in West Garfield Park whose ages range from 17 to 34 are unemployed and the annual median income is just over $24,000.

With gun violence a longstanding problem in the neighborhood, the organization said there’s a direct connection between unemployment and life expectancy.

In Austin, 13.4 percent of its residents are out of work and 10.9 percent of residents do not have a job in Humboldt Park.

With its affluent, college-educated residents, Hyde Park has the lowest unemployment rate on the South Side, where just 6.4 percent of people were out of work. Neighboring Kenwood’s unemployment rate is 9.2 percent.

Since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics first started collecting data on Black labor statistics in 1972, the Black unemployment rate has stayed at, or twice above the white unemployment rate.

Analysts say only highly educated Blacks and experienced Black workers have reached unemployment rates that have been nearly the same as their white counterparts.

But not all college-educated Blacks find success in the job market. Crain’s Chicago Business reported what many Blacks knew for years as they experienced barriers to employment.

The publication told the story of Stella Ashaolu, an MBA job seeker who couldn’t find employment after she graduated at the top of her class at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.

Like most Blacks, Ashaolu lacked the business networks that were often available to white educated job seekers.

Ashaolu went on to form WeSolv, a platform that connects companies to a network of 30,000 diverse MBA candidates.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, U.S. employers plan to hire 31.6 percent more college graduates this year compared to 2021. This means that the job market is relatively strong for Black graduates entering the workforce in 2022.

And according to Black Enterprise magazine, the average starting salary for recent graduates is $55,260. However, Black college graduates who responded to a survey expected an average annual salary of $104,810. White college graduates expected to make $103,820 at their first job.

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