Quick Hit Robert Dietz Thursday February 24th, 2011, 11:24am

Racial Disparity In Chicago's Unemployment Rate

When the coverage of the mayoral campaign wasn't discussing Rahm Emanuel's residency or Carol Moseley Braun's latest gaffe, it focused on the city's finances, the school system, and the residency requirement. What was largely absent from the race, however, was unemployment. Perhaps that's because throughout the campaign, the city's unemployment rate dropped to 8.6 percent. But a new report by the Chicago Reporter shows why that's a misleading figure and why Mayor-elect Emanuel should be talking about the racial disparity amongst the city's unemployment.

In September, Progress Illinois highlighted the staggering level of economic stagnation and unemployment in Chicago's black population. At the time, the citywide unemployment rate was at 10.5 percent, but it was more than double that in some of the city's black neighborhoods.

And while the overall unemployment rate is dropping throughout the city, the disparity is still very much an issue. Megan Cottrell of the Chicago Reporter, in the first piece in the publication's series to highlight "five shocking facts about Chicago," reports that unemployment in the city's black population is at 21.4 percent, making it the highest unamployment rate in the 10 cities the Reporter investigated. The unemployment rate in the Latino population is also high, coming in at 13.3 percent. The unemployment rate in the white population, meanwhile, is 7.8 percent. Cottrell then asked, "why does Chicago top the list for minority unemployment? Why do New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas and San Jose have us beat?"

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