Education, Employment, and Poverty in Chicago

What story do socioeconomic indicators tell us about Chicago communities?

In order to predict the socioeconomic trends in the coming years, a student journalist at UIC has produced the above line graph representing Chicago’s 2008–2012 socioeconomic indicators based on census data collected from the Chicago Data Portal.

Statistics compared included percentages of households below the poverty line, unemployed 16+ Chicagoans, and 25+ chicagoans without high school diplomas. Each community area in the city was compared.

Riverdale capped households under the poverty line at 56.5%, contrasting Edison Park with a max household poverty rate of just 3.3%. In South Lawndale, 54.8% of residents over the age of 25 did not have a high school diploma. Near North Side, this number is only 2.5%. West Engelwood had the highest 16+ unemployment rate at 35.9%, while Near South Side was down to 4.9%.

Despite this data being nine years old, some trends are evident. In most cases, if one indicator shot up, so did the others. Likewise, when numbers shot down, the others followed in each respective community. This is unsurprising, as indicators such as education and employment weigh heavily on poverty rates. Furthermore, many of the poorest neighborhoods presented in the graph are still in rough economic shape today.

Perhaps a closer look at some of this data by Chicago’s elected leaders could inform funding and investment. Clearly, improving education and ensuring access to stable employment are essential to the elimination of poverty in Chicago’s poorest communities.

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