by Don Washington on 2011/06/05
One of the interesting things no one talked about during the campaign for Mayor was a peculiar quirk in our unemployment statistics. Under Mayor Daley African-Americans took a drubbing and by any measure you can come up with suffered under his Administration. For example the population fell by12.5 percent and predominantly black communities had 21.4 percent unemployment. Imagine what your neighborhood might look like if one in five of you were out of work but there is an even more alarming way to look at this piece of information… African-Americans in Chicago are nearly three times as likely as whites to be unemployed. This is a daunting problem that Mayor Emanuel and his team will have to handle… or will he even worry about it?
During the campaign Mayor Emanuel did not talk about unemployment during the campaign and when it did come up it came up around the Obama stimulus package… or lack thereof in terms of impact on the conditions of ordinary people… especially African-Americans. The dimension of this problem cannot be understated. For African Americans in Chicago at every education level blacks are more likely to be unemployed. This is not an education problem. Here in Chicago more-educated African-Americans have unemployment rates comparable to less-educated whites and that means that any solution set has to somehow take race into account in some way. To be fair, however, at this point in the city’s history every worker is in peril and Mayor Emanuel is faced with the unenviable task of having to come up with innovative urban job-creation policies no matter what and he’s shown no signs of doing anything of the sort. So what will Mayor Emanuel do? Will he work to see that the city that works; works for African-Americans… or for that matter any of us who are not among the corporate over class? Though it is clear that we need him to find ways to combat the continuing racial discrimination in the labor market; we also need him to care about any worker, anywhere… I’m just starting where the need for jobs is felt most keenly.