Dec 2, 2012 Comments Off on Fancy footwork on job numbers
Mayor Emanuel’s op-ed in last Sunday’s Washington Post, framed as advice to the Democratic Party, may or may not be an attempt to get out in front of the 2016 presidential field.
Emanuel touts his infrastructure trust, introduction of competition for early education dollars, longer school day, and reorganization of City Colleges as the model for a national program.
As proof of the wisdom of his policies, he cites Chicago’s latest employment figures, with 42,500 more people employed this October over October 2011 – stronger growth than any other city, he proclaims. It’s a neat statistic, though it’s also an example of Emanuel’s proclivity for announcing results before initiatives have even been implemented.
Employment numbers vary from month to month – over the last year, monthly numbers for Chicago have ranged from a gain of 17,537 (in August) to a loss of 9,744 (in July) — so picking your data point can make a big difference in bragging rights. But it does seem that for a few months at least, job growth has been stronger in Chicago than elsewhere, though it’s not due to anything Emanuel has done.
One statistic doesn’t tell the whole story, of course. It also turns out that while employment increased from September to October, unemployment also increased, rising a half point to reach 10 percent, according to World Business Chicago. But hey, that’s progress: it’s down 0.3 percent from two years ago.
Maybe it’s a good sign that more people are looking for work. But unfortunately, too many are not finding it.
And in Emanuel’s Chicago, they’re far more likely to be out of work if they’re African American. As the health department’s new database on socioeconomic indicators reveals, the distribution of unemployment is wildly uneven in Chicago.
Five community areas including the Loop, Lakeview, and Lincoln Park had unemployment rates below 5 percent. In nine community areas, all on the South and West Side, unemployment was over 20 percent. In West Englewood, it was over 34 percent.