We know that the job market has been running strong in 2018. According to an article from the Chicago Tribune earlier in the year the number of job openings in the country exceeds the number of unemployed workers for the first time on record. Great news.
Nevertheless there are still many skilled workers who are unemployed and in need of immediate job placement. The unemployment rate in Chicago has been in a steady decline since recent years, currently at 4.5% according to the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), however, unfortunately Chicago has the slowest rate of job growth out of 12 of the largest metropolitan areas in America (US Department of Labor BLS, August 2018).
Why this is may very well have to do with Chicago’s steady decline in population with contributing factors of economic and racial gentrification. The economic gap within Chicago is growing and minorities are struggling more and more to survive in the city. What can be done about this increase in the disparity between income levels and minority populations within the city? We suggest more awareness about this growing issue with a focus on public policy. Luxury housing complexes can designate a certain number of units to lower income families and individuals. Employers can factor income versus living expenses and take care of valued employees. Minimum wage in Chicago will rise from $12/hour to $13/hour in 2019. But $13.05/hour was considered to be a living wage in 2016 with $26/hour considered to be a living wage for a person with a child, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s living wage calculator.
Once again, public policy can play an important role in keeping wages equal to the rise in the cost of living. A timely reminder in this upcoming season of elections. Those of us affected by the economic gap and/or gentrification have a voice and we need to use it. It is our responsibility, to both ourselves and the greater community, to be informed about how public policy works and what we can do to affect change. We need to raise our voices to be and become a part of public policy so that all people can be represented and all needs can be met.