Report tracks racial disparity in jobs for youths in Cook County

Black young people in Cook County are having a harder time finding work than their counterparts in other similarly sized parts of the country.

They're also far less likely to find a job than whites and Hispanics their age in Cook County.

That's according to a report being released today from researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago who examined employment rates for 16- to 24-year olds living in Cook County in 2005 and 2014, as well as those living in New York City, Los Angeles and the Houston area. The study focused on individuals who were out of work and not currently enrolled in school or college.

Titled "A Lost Generation: The Disappearance of Teens and Young Adults from the Job Market in Cook County," the report contends that "deindustrialization" in Cook County led to a downward spiral of employment opportunities for all younger residents, but particularly among the black demographic.

"In effect, what we are seeing today in these spatially concentrated jobless figures is the long-term impacts of 40 years of economic decisions by portions of the private sector seeking to be more competitive in the global market place," the report states.

In 2014, 28.8 percent of Cook County's black population in the affected age group were unemployed, according to researchers. That's compared to 12.2 percent of the county's Hispanics and 7 percent of whites. Black Cook County residents between the ages of 20 and 24 also were less likely to be employed in 2014 than in 2005, while whites and Hispanics in that age group were more likely to be employed.

Authored by Teresa L. Cordova and Matthew D. Wilson, the report was prepared for the Cook County Board's Workforce, Housing and Community Development Committee. It emphasized the value of an investment in summer employment and greater job-training resources. Also, it recommends creating incentives for businesses in areas where joblessness is at its highest.

"Policies should be created that incentivize anchor employment centers that bring jobs back to areas where people will have access to them," the report states. "This can be done in a way that people from these areas will benefit."

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