Report finds high unemployment rates among minority youth in Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There's a troubling report out about young black men in Chicago. A new report shows almost half of black men in Chicago between the ages 20 to 24 are neither working nor in school.

"I would accept anything that would put me in a better financial position than I am now," Roosevelt Woods, 18, said.

Woods desperately wants a job, but after trying unsuccessfully to work in carpentry, the West Garfield Park resident is still unemployed.

It's a disturbing reality all too real for Tevin Smith, 20, that nearly half of young African American men in Chicago are neither working or in school, according to a report by the University of Illinois at Chicago's Great Cities Institute.

"The community wants us to get off the streets, stop selling drugs and end the violence, Smith said.

The findings were presented Monday at an annual hearing on youth unemployment hosted by the Chicago Urban League. According to the data commissioned by the Alternative Schools Network, 47 percent of the city's 20 to 24-year-old black males have been out of school and also out of work in 2014.

"For young people in Chicago - especially blacks and Latinos - conditions of joblessness are chronic," said Teresa Cordova, UIC's Great Cities Institute.

According to the report, comparatively speaking, unemployment rates in New York City and Los Angeles among young black men is 17-percent less. They have a roughly 31 percent unemployment rate among the same group. Nationally, young black males are unemployed at 32 percent.

With regard to black females in Chicago, 35.3 percent are either unemployed or not in school in the same age group - much higher than the national average of 24.7 percent. The situation is even worse for Latino teens, with 85 percent not working.

"It's kinda hard because you gotta know people on the inside to get the job, you can't just got and apply," Diamond Serrano said.

The highest concentrations of youth unemployment occur in neighborhoods on Chicago's South and West sides. Organizations behind the hearing want government to commit to hiring jobless youth during the summer and beyond.

"I don't lose hope because I know, one way or another, I'm going to end up with something," Woods said.

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