As unemployment rises, Chicagoans protest

July 8, 2011

(WBEZ/Kate Dries)
Protesters for Jobs with Justice in downtown Chicago

The U.S. Department of Labor reported today that the nation's unemployment rate rose to a six-month high of 9.2 percent, up from last month's rate of 9.1 percent. Some Chicago residents say they're worried about finding work.

Organizers for Jobs with Justice rallied at the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago Friday afternoon to protest what they view as the government's mishandling of the current recession. They marched to a nearby Citibank, vocalizing their distress at the excess of money they argue is going to corporations.

“For the average person on the street, and for somebody my age, you really need a very healthy economy before you can have any prospect finding work,” said Robert Roman, a Rogers Park resident. “When you’re unemployed at 60 years old, it’s really tough, even when you have credentials.”

Even some younger Chicagoans don't see a particularly bright future. "When I went to school, they told us, we have...more jobs available than you can possibly take. It’s just not shaping up that way," said Brigidann Rauch, a recent graduate with a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning.

According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the unemployment rate in the Chicago metro area was 9.8 percent in May, up from 8.7 percent in April.

"I’m not actively looking for work because I know it’s absolutely useless," said Roman. "I have a certain amount of cushion that I can fall back on, and I figure, may as well use that up."