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May Unemployment Numbers See Little Change, Government Can Step in to Help with Job Creation through Higher Education Regulation


June 3, 2016


Chelsea Whittington, External Affairs Manager

(773) 451-3524


May Unemployment Numbers See Little Change, Government Can

Step in to Help with Job Creation through Higher Education Regulation


CHICAGO, IL. – June 3, 2016 –The Chicago Urban League’s Workforce Development Director Andrew Wells today issued the following statement in response to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) May 2016 jobs report:

“The May national unemployment rate actually decreased by .03 percent to 4.7. Meanwhile, Chicago continues to trend above the national average at 6.9 percent. Blacks make up 32 percent of Chicago’s population, and the unemployment rate shamefully exceeds 18 percent.

The National Urban League’s recently released State of Black America report  clearly indicates that Chicago is a first-class city tackling third world problems – joblessness and crime being at the top of the list. Clearly, the two are inextricably linked with lack of employment too often leading to criminal activity. The report goes on to rank Chicago as one of the worse American cities when it comes to employment and income equality, which means that when we finally secure employment, we don’t get paid as much as our White counterparts. Where are we going wrong?

A recent article in the New York Times reminds us that America has been through a ‘fundamental transformation’ of the labor force in the early 1900s when farming was replaced by industrialization. Well, that transition is once again upon us only this time, industrialization is being replaced with technology. The manufacturing jobs of the 1980s continue to dwindle, and we are faced with the reality that the current workforce must adapt to the changes that our technological society now demands. Federal, state and local government can play a pivotal role in ensuring that this adaptation takes place.

For one, more aggressive government regulation of higher education — not to mention fiscal support of public higher education — will help clear the path to a more skilled, job-ready workforce. Policing for-profit universities and ensuring that everyone has equal access to affordable education through public universities and community colleges is nothing new, but clearly needs to be resurrected and enforced.

At the Chicago Urban League, we are committed to doing our part by offering training in diverse sectors, certification programs, scholarships and assistance in securing employment. We are once again poised to host one of the city’s largest annual job fairs in July, which will surely result in many Chicagoans landing jobs. However, we cannot solve the problem of unemployment alone.

We will continue to call on our partners in government both locally and nationally and corporate citizens to be a part of the solution. Their engagement can only mean a better Chicago.”


To schedule an interview with Mr. Wells, please email

About the Chicago Urban League

Established in 1916, the Chicago Urban League works for economic, educational and social progress for African Americans and promotes strong sustainable communities through advocacy, collaboration and innovation. For more information, visit Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.