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Chicago Urban League Issues Statement on January Employment Numbers

In response to the recently released January employment numbers, Andrew K. Wells,  Director of Workforce Development shared the following statement:

“The national unemployment rate fell below 5 percent, the lowest in 8 years.  Economists use the term natural rate of unemployment to describe the baseline rate of unemployment, which many of them agree it’s in the range of 5 to 6 percent.   This is great news for the country, and it has significant impact on how public policy is shaped. However, African-Americans don’t have a reason to rejoice.  In January, I highlighted the disparity in employment rates between blacks and other ethnic groups.  Since that time, the national unemployment rate for black adults and youth increased.  Let’s put this in perspective and define what it means for African-Americans in Chicago. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Chicago has the 4th highest unemployment rate among cities with a population of 1 million or more. The Chicago Tribune reported that forty-seven percent of young black men in Chicago, ages 20 to 24 were unemployed.  The highest concentration of unemployment is in Englewood, East Garfield, North Lawndale and Fuller Park areas where the population is more than 90 percent African-American.

Standing together as a community, we can change the trajectory of this gaping inequality gap and restore the confidence of our youth and lead them into a future of prosperity. Community leaders must continue to engage young people in meaningful dialogue about social justice, education, employment and conflict resolution.  Most importantly, we must help them understand the importance of their vote and the impact it has on their future. The Chicago Urban League believes that a strong African American community is a better Chicago.”