The numbers are staggering–mind numbing, even, for Chicago minority youth. Forty-seven percent of young black men ages 20 to 24 are out of work and out of school.
The Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) published these findings in their Jan. 2017 report, “Abandoned in their Neighborhoods: Youth Joblessness amidst the Flight of Industry and Opportunity.”
“Depriving young people of the dignity of work leaves ‘permanent scars,’ impedes an overall sense of wellbeing, and can lead to counterproductive behaviors,” the UIC report states.
Their findings were released in conjunction with the annual Youth Employment Hearing held in Chicago on Jan. 30, 2017. The hearing featured a panel of young speakers who shared stories of struggle in their impoverished, racially segregated neighborhoods. These young adults cited a clear link between joblessness and violence in Chicago. And they said that finding work, even a summer job program, opened the door to life-changing opportunities for them.
The UIC report tracked employment rates in Chicago from 1960 to present. Among its key findings: a decline in Chicago manufacturing has left many neighborhoods without jobs for young people. In 1960, nearly 58% of working Latinos 20 to 24 years old had manufacturing jobs. Thirty-five percent of white workers and nearly 30 percent of African American workers that age had manufacturing jobs in 1960. In 2015, only 10 percent of working Latinos in that age group worked in manufacturing, compared with about 3% of both white and African American adults that age.
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The AGB Foundation exists to help young people of color become the next generation of business owners, who will pay it forward by reinvesting in Chicago youth and our struggling neighborhoods.