WBEZ | Unemployment http://www.wbez.org/tags/unemployment Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Left out of economic recovery, workers go underground http://www.wbez.org/news/left-out-economic-recovery-workers-go-underground-110399 <p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Santana%20CROP.jpg" style="height: 377px; width: 300px; float: right; margin-top: 4px; margin-bottom: 4px;" title="‘I barely make ends meet. Why should I pay taxes?’ a Chicago ice-cream vendor asks. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />Santana does not want to be part of Chicago&rsquo;s underground economy but says he has struck out everywhere else.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve tried getting a formal job at Menard&rsquo;s, Home Depot, Target, Walmart &mdash; all these big corporations, which usually do hire a lot of ethnicity people,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I have not been called back for an interview.&rdquo;</p><p>So Santana &mdash; who, like other workers in this story, spoke on condition we not publish his full name &mdash; spends most days pushing an ice-cream cart in Little Village, a Mexican-American neighborhood.</p><p>Santana does not earn much. &ldquo;On a decent day, maybe about $90,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>And he comes from a low-income family. &ldquo;I actually have to claim homelessness to get funds from the government such as a Link card,&rdquo; he said, referring to Illinois&rsquo;s food-stamp program. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been paying rent at my mom&rsquo;s since I was 16.&rdquo;</p><p>So Santana says he has good reason to skip paying taxes on his income.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s all off the books,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Five years since the Great Recession, the U.S. economy has grown but a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/left-out-economic-recovery-workers-go-underground-110399#charts" target="_self">key labor-market gauge</a> shows little evidence of the recovery. As of May, more than 41 percent of the working-age population lacked employment, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data on civilian, noninstitutionalized individuals. The most recent figure for Chicago, from 2012, is almost 44 percent.<br /><br />Many of the jobless folks are, like Santana, finding other ways to earn money. And there is reason to believe this shadow economy is expanding.<br /><br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;">Down but not out</span><br /><br />It is hard to know how many jobless individuals have resorted to working off the books. Few economists will even hazard a guess.<br /><br />But Edgar Feige, a professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, estimates that income not reported to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is as high as $2 trillion a year &mdash; equivalent to roughly 20 percent of the nation&rsquo;s total adjusted gross income. Feige said that number is &ldquo;approaching the levels that we observed during the Great Depression.&rdquo;</p><p>He means the one in the 1930s.<br /><br />Nowadays a business may look legitimate from the street while most of its staff works off the books.</p><p>&ldquo;I get paid $8 an hour to basically just clean this restaurant,&rdquo; a 25-year-old man said as he hosed off a grill in back of a South Side jerk chicken joint. &ldquo;No one here ever gets a check or pay stub. It&rsquo;s all paid in cash.&rdquo;<br /><br />What is driving people to take these shady jobs? Many of the workers say formal employment is beyond their reach. The labor market is particularly tough for young workers, African Americans, people with a criminal record, immigrants in the country illegally and high-school dropouts.<br /><br />And it can be tough even with a college degree. &ldquo;I have a bachelor&rsquo;s in information technology and I&rsquo;d like to be a Web developer,&rdquo; said a man I&rsquo;ll call Jonathan, a 27-year-old in Flossmoor, a suburb south of Chicago.<br /><br />Jonathan says he came up with nothing in searches for an internship or apprenticeship &mdash; anything that would put food on the table while he developed his skills. So he works on cars.</p><p>&ldquo;I go to the junkyard and I pick out an engine,&rdquo; he said. In his mom&rsquo;s garage, he installs those engines in cars he finds on Craigslist. Then he sells the cars.<br /><br />And the title on those vehicles?</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t even transfer the title into my name first,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I actually just pass it straight on to the person that&rsquo;s buying because I&rsquo;ve reached my limit as far as how many cars I can sell.&rdquo;<br /><br />Jonathan admits he is paying no income tax on this work. &ldquo;The choice is, Do I pay my water bill or do I pay my taxes?&rdquo; he said.<br />&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Everyone affected</span><br /><br />If you think Chicago&rsquo;s underground economy operates only in low-income neighborhoods, you are wrong.<br /><br />&ldquo;I live on the North Side of Chicago,&rdquo; said a 45-year-old woman I&rsquo;ll call Jennifer. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m a presentation designer and writer. I&rsquo;ve had no full-time employment since 2008.&rdquo;<br /><br />Jennifer does get freelance gigs in her field. &ldquo;But that&rsquo;s infrequent,&rdquo; she said.<br /><br />So she resorts to other paid work, much of it off-the-books. It includes dog walking, cat sitting and handing out swag at trade shows and street festivals. &ldquo;Then I figure out what things probably won&rsquo;t go noticed if I don&rsquo;t claim them,&rdquo; Jennifer said.<br /><br />She&rsquo;s not talking about hiding income from the IRS but from the Illinois Department of Employment Security. She doesn&rsquo;t want officials there to dock her unemployment checks.<br /><br />Jennifer says her options are few. &ldquo;Right now, I don&rsquo;t have electricity,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;My electricity was turned off five weeks ago. And I guess I owe ComEd $500 and I have no idea how I&rsquo;m going to get that $500.&rdquo;<br /><br />Even if people report all their income and pay taxes on it, they might still have close ties to the shadow economy. Maybe they have a nanny and do not report her pay to the IRS.</p><p>Or maybe the taxpayers shop at a big-box store. The prices might be great, but that could owe partly to shady contractors that clean the place at night. Those contractors might bring in janitors working off-the-books.<br /><br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;">Drawbacks</span><br /><br />&ldquo;You can think of these underground economies as actually being a buffer that helps families get through difficult times,&rdquo; said Feige, the economist, pointing out that people making money off-the-books also spend it. &ldquo;It contributes to economic growth in the official economy as well.&rdquo;<br /><br />The informal economy does have its downsides. It does not generate many tax dollars to fund the job training or social services that some workers might need. The workers may also lack benefits and protections such as unemployment compensation and a minimum wage.<br /><br />&ldquo;A young person will have fewer and fewer contacts to the outside regional economy,&rdquo; said Steven Pitts, a labor economist at the University of California, Berkeley. &ldquo;They&rsquo;ll have a résumé that&rsquo;s undeveloped for use in that economy. So you may get a reproduction of poverty because of that.&rdquo;<br /><br />There are other risks, especially when the work is further outside the law, such as drug dealing.<br /><br />On Chicago&rsquo;s West Side, a 23-year-old who calls herself Ebony faces workplace hazards every day. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m a prostitute,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I work the streets.&rdquo;<br /><br />Ebony, a Chicago Public Schools graduate, says she does not enjoy her trade but considers it her best option. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve applied for McDonald&rsquo;s, Walmart, White Castle,&rdquo; she said.<br /><br />Employers have all passed on her &ldquo;because I don&rsquo;t have a work history,&rdquo; she said. Or at least not a formal work history.<br /><br />Ebony says she has been earning a living since she was 16.</p><p>&ldquo;I stand and wait for guys to pick me up,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;You get in a car. They ask you, &lsquo;How much is this?&rsquo; and &lsquo;How much is that?&rsquo; You give them a price. They give you the money. You either do it in the car, you rent rooms from people, or you go to a hotel.&rdquo;<br /><br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;">Desperate measures</span></p><p>That brings us back to Santana, the young man who pushes the ice-cream cart. Even without paying taxes, he says he is not making enough money. And he could be heading down the same road as Ebony.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve actually even considered being a sugar baby,&rdquo; Santana said, describing that as spending time with an older woman and providing her all sorts of services. &ldquo;She&rsquo;d be a cougar. I&rsquo;d be a cub. She&rsquo;d basically pay for my bills and stuff like that.&rdquo;<br /><br />To become a sugar baby &mdash; to find his sugar mama &mdash; Santana says he might have to become a stripper.</p><p>With that in mind, he says, he has been lifting weights. He has the shoulders and arms to prove it. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m never going to look this good again in my life,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>In Chicago&rsquo;s underground economy, Santana figures his body might be the best thing he&rsquo;s got.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Employment-population ratio<a name="charts"></a></span></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chart%201.PNG" style="height: 370px; width: 500px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chart%202.PNG" style="height: 390px; width: 500px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chart%203.PNG" style="height: 478px; width: 500px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chart%204.PNG" style="height: 426px; width: 500px;" title="" /></div></div></div></div></div></div><p><em><strong>SOURCE:</strong> U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. <strong>NOTES: </strong>The employment-population ratio is the proportion of the U.S. working-age population (ages 16 and over) that is employed, either full- or part-time. That population includes everyone except members of the military and institutionalized persons. A 2013 figure for the city of Chicago is not yet available. Annual figures are averages of monthly figures. <strong>REPORTER:</strong>&nbsp;</em><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 14:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/left-out-economic-recovery-workers-go-underground-110399 Morning Shift: The good, bad and ugly of unemployment numbers throughout Illinois http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-04-17/morning-shift-good-bad-and-ugly-unemployment-numbers <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Unemployment Flickr Tax Credits.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We look at the latest job numbers for Illinois and what towns have the highest unemployment. Also, the music of Sondheim - we get a visit from the cast of the Shakespeare Theater&#39;s production of Road Show.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-good-bad-and-ugly-of-unemploymen/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-good-bad-and-ugly-of-unemploymen.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-good-bad-and-ugly-of-unemploymen" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: The good, bad and ugly of unemployment numbers throughout Illinois" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-04-17/morning-shift-good-bad-and-ugly-unemployment-numbers GOP candidate for governor says unemployed need motivation to get a job http://www.wbez.org/news/gop-candidate-governor-says-unemployed-need-motivation-get-job-109633 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Bill Brady_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois State Sen. Bill Brady &ndash; a candidate in the Illinois Republican primary for governor &ndash; said he is hearing from manufacturers that people are not motivated to return to the workforce because they are &ldquo;enjoying&rdquo; their unemployment insurance.</p><p>Brady made the comment near the end of a debate, sponsored by the Illinois Manufacturers&rsquo; Association and the Valley Industrial Association, that was held this morning in the Chicago suburb of Naperville.</p><p>Brady participated along with all three opponents for the March 18 primary: venture capitalist Bruce Rauner, state Sen. Kirk Dillard, and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford.</p><p>The candidates were asked by Greg Baise, who heads the Illinois Manufacturers&rsquo; Association, about their positions on increasing Illinois&rsquo; unemployment benefits.</p><p>Rauner noted, &ldquo;Most [manufacturers] have said, &lsquo;It&rsquo;s not the biggest problem we face, and workers comp is much bigger, taxes are much bigger, and some of the regulatory burden overall is a bigger problem.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>But Brady said he&rsquo;s heard something different than Rauner from manufacturers.</p><p>&ldquo;I have to differ with Mr. Rauner on this,&rdquo; Brady said. &ldquo;The number one issue I run into when I travel around to manufacturing plants particularly, when I ask them, &lsquo;How&rsquo;s it going?&rsquo; They say, &lsquo;I can&rsquo;t hire my people back.&rsquo; They say, &lsquo;They&rsquo;re enjoying &ndash; I&rsquo;ll use &ndash; their unemployment insurance. And I can&rsquo;t get them back to work.&rsquo; So we&rsquo;ve gotta motivate people to get back into the workforce.&rdquo;</p><p>In a phone interview after the debate, Brady would not say which manufacturers have said people enjoy their unemployment benefits and are not motivated to return to work.</p><p>Rutherford, in responding to the unemployment question at the debate, related the problem to Chicago&rsquo;s gun violence. Dillard was cut off for time purposes without answering the question.</p><p>The Illinois Department of Employment Security reported in December that the state&rsquo;s unemployment rate stood at 8.6 percent, nearly 2 percentage points higher than the national average.</p><p>Brady is making his third run for the governor&rsquo;s office. He lost in the 2006 Republican primary. In 2010, he lost in the general election to Democratic incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn. Dillard is making his second bid for governor after losing a close primary contest to Brady in 2010.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 04 Feb 2014 13:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/gop-candidate-governor-says-unemployed-need-motivation-get-job-109633 Morning Shift: The emotional expense of unemployment http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-01-16/morning-shift-emotional-expense-unemployment-109526 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/unemployment Flickr by theseoduke.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&#39;s easy to see the financial strain caused by long-term unemployment. Now, new research is shedding light on the less understood but equally damaging emotional cost. We delve into mental health and unemployment with professor Timothy Classen and therapist Keith Renfroe.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-emotional-expense-of-unemploymen/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-emotional-expense-of-unemploymen.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-emotional-expense-of-unemploymen" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: The emotional expense of unemployment" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 16 Jan 2014 08:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-01-16/morning-shift-emotional-expense-unemployment-109526 Not all suburban libraries are created equal http://www.wbez.org/news/not-all-suburban-libraries-are-created-equal-107923 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cicero%203.JPG" style="height: 347px; width: 620px;" title="In trying to meet the needs of its booming Latino population, Cicero Public Library offers English language classes to patrons. (WBEZ/Adriana Cardona) " /></p><p>The American Library Association just wrapped up its annual conference in Chicago this week. High on the agenda was new technology, creative programming, and helping libraries do more with less. That last one is especially important for towns in Greater Chicago that rely on them for additional services like job training.</p><p>But not all suburban libraries have equal amounts of revenue coming in. WBEZ visited two suburban libraries serving roughly the same amount of people, but with vastly different resources.</p><p>The first is <a href="http://ahml.info/" target="_blank">Arlington Heights Memorial Library</a>. When you walk inside the newly remodeled library the first thing you notice is the light...streaming through large windows and skylights above.</p><p>The space looks less like a library and more like a sleek new Apple store, which is appropriate since patrons can check out iPads from the front desk.</p><p>Jason Kuhl, the library&rsquo;s executive director, gave me a personal tour shortly before the library completed its remodeling last winter.</p><p>&ldquo;Everyone at Arlington Heights really does love the library,&rdquo; Kuhl said. &ldquo;We had 900 thousand visitors last year and I would like to say that&#39;s more than the Blackhawks had, that&rsquo;s more than the Bears drew and that&rsquo;s more than the Bulls drew.&rdquo;</p><p>The library has three different editing suites each with audio and video production software. Local businesses can book conference rooms with projectors. Then there&rsquo;s the fireplace and a fancy coffee bar.</p><p>A few miles south, at the <a href="http://www.cicerolibrary.org/" target="_blank">Cicero Public Library</a> things are a little different. Jane Schoen is the director there and also gave me a tour.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We have a job board here and people are checking it all the time,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;We have our public computers that people use to complete resumes.</p><p>Cicero had its own renovation about ten years ago when it was merged with a former warehouse next door. And it&rsquo;s also fairly spacious like the library in Arlington Heights.</p><p>But, that&rsquo;s where the similarities end.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cicero%2011.JPG" style="float: right; height: 196px; width: 350px;" title="Jane Schoen is the director of the Cicero Public Library. Comparing her funding with libraries in wealthier suburbs like Arlington Heights she says, 'No, it’s not fair but it just is.' (WBEZ/Adriana Cardona)" />While Arlington Heights offers patrons personalized tech help for their gadgets, not to mention in-house iPads, Cicero struggles to maintain basic services (a quick glance at each library&rsquo;s websites is telling).</p><p>&ldquo;We would like to keep up a little bit more with technology,&rdquo; Schoen said. &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t yet have wireless printing for instance.&rdquo;</p><p>On paper these libraries don&rsquo;t look that different. Both serve around 80 thousand people but their spending per capita is wildly different. As of 2011, the Arlington Heights library had $177.29 to spend per person. In Cicero they had $20.97 per person &ndash; nearly nine times less. [see table below]</p><p>&ldquo;No, it&rsquo;s not fair but it just is,&rdquo; Schoen said. &ldquo;If you live in a poor community you don&#39;t get as many property taxes as communities that have million dollar homes and pay a lot of taxes on their properties.&rdquo;</p><p>Unlike Chicago Public Libraries which have a centralized funding system, nearly 90 percent of the money for suburban libraries comes from their local property tax dollars. The rest comes from public and private grants.</p><p>&ldquo;Some libraries have people that do nothing but look for grants, or that&rsquo;s a big part of their job, and we don&rsquo;t have that resource here,&rdquo; Schoen said.&nbsp;</p><p>Mary Johnson is the executive director of Corazon Community Services, a group that offers programs for youth and adults in Cicero.&nbsp; She said there&rsquo;s little anyone can do about the way funding is allocated to public services, but she feels foundations too often place their priorities in Cicero&rsquo;s next door neighbor, Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;I think neighborhoods like Cicero and Melrose Park and some others in the South Side have kind of become like the forgotten step children of Chicago,&rdquo; Johnson said.&nbsp;</p><p>She said the library makes an effort to reach out to people, but Cicero&rsquo;s increasingly large Hispanic population needs more services.</p><p>&ldquo;I would love to see the library offer late night study cafe hours, we&rsquo;ll love to see more opportunities for parents, so book clubs in Spanish,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>She said the lack of access to technology is also a pressing issue, considering how patrons use libraries nowadays.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/arlingtonlibrary.jpg" style="height: 261px; width: 350px; float: left;" title="Library administrators demonstrate an interactive dollhouse in the children's area. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></p><p>Mary Witt agrees. She&rsquo;s with Reaching Across Illinois Library System, a state program that helps libraries with services like book delivery and technology support. According to Witt, libraries could do more for job-seekers.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s something that&rsquo;s in huge demand, that again a smaller library might not be able to afford,&rdquo; Witt said. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s kind of ironic in that some of the libraries that are hardest hit financially are needed the most because they serve areas [with] the highest unemployment.&rdquo;</p><p>In April Cicero&rsquo;s unemployment rate was 12 percent &ndash; nearly double that of Arlington Heights.</p><p>Witt said other libraries in Chicago&rsquo;s suburbs have even more urgent worries. They don&rsquo;t have enough space to hold community events and their old buildings need major maintenance.</p><p>But she said, even the neediest libraries are figuring out how to best serve their patrons.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Libraries aren&rsquo;t just sitting there,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Everyone is trying to find out what their communities need so they are looking for creative ways that they can adapt those technologies and those other trends to serve their customers.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Which, according to Jason Kuhl, is all Arlington Heights Memorial Library is trying to do too.</p><p>&ldquo;You can&rsquo;t be sort of a cookie cutter library anymore,&rdquo; Kuhl said. &ldquo;We are looking to be nimble; we are looking to adjust to whatever our community needs.&rdquo;</p><p>Every library wants to keep up with community needs, the question is, do they have the resources to do so?</p><h2><strong>A tale of two libraries</strong></h2><p>&nbsp;</p><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> {"dataSourceUrl":"//docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/tq?key=0Am5Rt8H_U2b1dElVemY3Y0VtZERZeWpRZ212MzRuR2c&transpose=0&headers=1&range=A1%3AC11&gid=0&pub=1","options":{"vAxes":[{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null}],"titleTextStyle":{"fontSize":16},"booleanRole":"certainty","title":"Chart title","legend":"right","hAxis":{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},"width":610,"height":400},"state":{},"view":{},"isDefaultVisualization":true,"chartType":"Table","chartName":"Chart 2"} </script><p>Source: <a href="https://harvester.census.gov/imls/search/index.asp?&amp;LibraryName=Cicero%20Public%20Library&amp;LibraryID=&amp;Address=&amp;City=&amp;State=&amp;Zip=&amp;Distance=&amp;County=&amp;PhoneAreaCode=&amp;Phone=&amp;LibraryType=&amp;LibTypes=LS%2CCE%2CBR%2CBS%2CBM&amp;StateSelectedIndex=0&amp;ResultSetNumber=1&amp;procqstr=1" target="_blank">Census data</a><span id="cke_bm_483E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_482E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_481E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_480E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_479E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_478E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_477E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span></p></p> Tue, 02 Jul 2013 08:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/not-all-suburban-libraries-are-created-equal-107923 American employers jockey for skilled, foreign workers http://www.wbez.org/news/american-employers-jockey-skilled-foreign-workers-106551 <p><p>For the first time since 2008, the number of petitions to bring in skilled, temporary foreign workers has reached its cap within the first week of taking applications.</p><p>Employers wishing to sponsor professionals in fields such as IT and engineering for the 2014 federal fiscal year started filing visa petitions last Monday.</p><p dir="ltr">The U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration services issues up to 85,000 H-1B visas per year. Within five days of opening the application window, USCIS had received about 124,000 petitions. &ldquo;I mean, this hasn&rsquo;t happened since 2008, where I think it took one day to reach the cap back then,&rdquo; said Marilu Cabrera, spokesman for USCIS. &ldquo;Last year it took about 73 days, and for the past few years it&rsquo;s been taking much longer. So this is definitely news for us.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Many see the increased demand as a sign of economic recovery, but critics of the program say it allows companies to bypass skilled American workers for cheaper foreign labor. Under federal law, H-1B sponsors are required to pay workers the prevailing wage within their industry. However, employers may choose from four tiers of pay within those categories, and some contend that the majority of employers only pay H-1B workers at the lowest levels allowed.</p><p dir="ltr">USCIS will use a lottery to decide which petitions are accepted.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>&mdash;Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 08 Apr 2013 17:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/american-employers-jockey-skilled-foreign-workers-106551 Arrest records in hiring process lead to marginalization, poor mental health http://www.wbez.org/news/arrest-records-hiring-process-lead-marginalization-poor-mental-health-106442 <p><p>Englewood residents who are repeatedly denied jobs because of an arrest record experience mental health problems, according to a new report.</p><p>The Chicago-based Adler School of Professional Psychology looked at whether updates to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission could increase employment in Englewood &mdash; a poor, black neighborhood where one of the city&rsquo;s highest unemployment and arrest rates are coupled with dwindling mental health services.</p><p>Last year the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated <a href="http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/wysk/arrest_conviction_records.cfm">its policy that prohibits employers from using arrest records</a> in the hiring process. Adler researchers began conducting the study while the EEOC was considering revisions. They interviewed 250 Englewood residents, asking them about life satisfaction, use of the informal economy and discrimination. The school&rsquo;s findings suggest that employment rejection created symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress.</p><p>&ldquo;In communities like Englewood where there&rsquo;s a large number of people who are experiencing this, it had impacts community wide. So we found that things like psychological sense of community and cohesion were undermined as well,&rdquo; said Lynn Todman, the study&rsquo;s lead author and director of Adler&rsquo;s Institute on Social Exclusion.</p><p>During interviews, respondents said Englewood residents typically seek low-skill retail jobs. Todman said employers sometimes found arrest records without convictions while performing background checks of applicants. And subsequently they weren&rsquo;t hired.</p><p>&ldquo;Our findings suggested that if the EEOC tightens its guidelines and employers follow those guidelines, that we would see reduction in depressive symptoms, anxiety and then some of the indicators of collective well being in the neighborhood would improve,&rdquo; Todman said.</p><p>Despite the EEOC edict that says employers can&rsquo;t use arrest records in hiring, enforcement is tricky. Advocates say there&rsquo;s no money for monitoring.</p><p>Todman said the Adler report was also done to mobilize Englewood residents by letting them know they can report discrimination to the EEOC and organize to lobby for money. The neighborhood&rsquo;s unemployment rate stands at 25 percent, while 42 percent of residents live in poverty, according to city data.<br /><br />Anthony Lowery is director of policy and advocacy for the Safer Foundation, a nonprofit that helps people with criminal records get into the workforce.</p><p>&ldquo;If you just look at the number of people who are denied opportunity, they lack hope in a community,&rdquo; Lowery said. &ldquo;These are the same communities that have escalation of violence because when a person sees there&rsquo;s no hope, opportunity for legal employment, then they provide for themselves and their families through illegal means.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><b id="internal-source-marker_0.22718566213734448" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Natalie Moore is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. Follow her</span><a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda" style="text-decoration: none;"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span></a><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><a href="http://www.twitter.com/natalieymoore">@natalieymoore</a>.</span></b></p></p> Wed, 03 Apr 2013 08:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/arrest-records-hiring-process-lead-marginalization-poor-mental-health-106442 Surviving unemployment anxiety http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-02/surviving-unemployment-anxiety-105618 <p><p><img alt="" but="" class="image-original_image" graduate="" if="" like="" mike="" one="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Plastics_620x350.png" t="" the="" title="&quot;One word: plastics.&quot; But...what if you don't like plastics? What if you want to be a writer, or worse, an &quot;artist?&quot; (The Graduate/Mike Nichols)" what="" word:="" you="" /></p><p>Watching <a href="http://www.articlemyriad.com/issues-gender-generation-film-graduate/" target="_blank"><em>The Graduate</em></a> in 2013 is a sobering experience. Even though many of the swinging &#39;60s colloquialisms and hair-dos are out of date, the film&#39;s message still rings as true today as it did in 1967: the life of a post-grad is scary, confusing and often crushed under the weight of our parents&#39; <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/weekinreview/29graduates.html?_r=0" target="_blank">high expectations</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>According to the <a href="http://metricmash.com/unemployment.aspx?code=LNS14000036" target="_blank">latest census</a> from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in this country for ages 20 to 24 is a whopping 13.7 percent. Unfortunately, this does not surprise me at all.</p><p>When I was an undergrad at Columbia College, I worked a string of unpaid internships (you know, for the several years of &quot;<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2011/LIVING/01/12/cb.get.experience.without.any/index.html" target="_blank">experience</a>&quot; employers demand on your resume before even considering you&nbsp;for a real job) and had a couple of freelance writing gigs lined up to coincide with my graduation in the summer of 2012. Then, at age 23, I experienced my&nbsp;<em>Girls</em>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Wbor0J5Kcg" target="_blank">pilot episode</a>&nbsp;moment: my dad announced that he would be cutting me off financially (&quot;tough love,&quot; he called it) and that I would be on my own.</p><p>Of course, my once marginal unemployment anxiety immediately shot into panic mode. The same questions tumbled around in my head day after day, eventually coagulating into a twisted shame spiral that nearly swallowed me whole:</p><p>How was I going to pay my bills without a full-time salary? Should I give up my dream of being a writer for a more sensible career at Starbucks? Could I make the $300 in my bank account last until Christmas by only buying&nbsp;<a href="http://gawker.com/unemployment/" target="_blank">ramen noodles</a> for dinner and never going out again? Or should I just leave Chicago altogether and crawl back home to Dallas: the land of baby-making, boredom and soul-crushing superficiality?&nbsp;</p><p>Thankfully, I was able to land a more stable job this year at the ripe old age of 24; but the fear of failure still lingers within me. In fact, just the thought of missing a paycheck and having to move back in with my parents sends post-traumatic-stress shivers down my spine.</p><p>College graduates seeking employment during one of the <a href="http://oilprice.com/Finance/the-Economy/Why-2013-will-End-in-a-Severe-Recession.html" target="_blank">worst recessions</a> in recent history are conditioned&nbsp;to live in fear, but &quot;<a href="http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/what-is-catastrophizing/" target="_blank">catastrophizing</a>&quot; will not help you get a job faster or make your life any better.&nbsp;</p><p>Ergo, I present this survival guide for unemployment anxiety (i.e. getting through the rough years of &quot;figuring out who you are&quot; without completely losing your mind):&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Relax to think</strong></p><p>Let&#39;s say you&#39;re a creative type, and you need to come up with the next great idea to land your dream job. Instead of torturing yourself over that new song, logo or e-book that refuses to materialize on your computer screen, take a break from the laptop and put your brain on autopilot. Inspiration comes when we allow our minds to wander; so go for a run, clean your room or&nbsp;<a href="http://scottberkun.com/2011/why-you-get-ideas-in-the-shower/">take a long, hot shower</a>&nbsp;and you&#39;ll have that glorious &quot;aha!&quot; moment when you least expect it. Case in point:&nbsp;JK Rowling came up with the idea for <em>Harry Potter&nbsp;</em>while <a href="http://www.helium.com/items/1908858-j-k-rowling-harry-potter" target="_blank">waiting for a train</a>&nbsp;at King&#39;s Cross Station that was four hours delayed.</p><p><strong>Build connections</strong></p><p>The concept of &quot;networking&quot; has probably been drilled into your head so many times that you want to turn a flamethrower on the next person who says &quot;It&#39;s all about who you know.&quot; Unfortunately, the reason you keep hearing this advice like a broken record is because it&#39;s <a href="http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2011/04/25/know-networking-job/" target="_blank">true</a>: the more connections you have in your business of choice, the more likely you are to get a job. You won&#39;t make friends by sitting at home every night, so why expect someone to hire you if they never see your face? Take a class, attend a job fair and meet as many people as possible. Hopefully, someone will see how talented you are and give you a leg-up from the <a href="http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/53-percent-of-all-young-college-graduates-in-america-are-either-unemployed-or-underemployed" target="_blank">thousands</a> of other equally-qualified college graduates vying for the same job. &nbsp;</p><p><strong>Stop comparing yourself to others</strong></p><p>I&#39;m a Type-A perfectionist, so not comparing myself to my 25-year-old sister with a 401(k) or a similarly talented co-worker who receives more praise and recognition than I do is <em>extremely</em>&nbsp;difficult. However, I&#39;ve learned that focusing on other people and constantly blaming them for my own unhappiness will only make me more miserable in the long run. Studies show that people who constantly check life updates on Facebook&nbsp;<a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2011/01/the_antisocial_network.html" target="_blank">feel worse about themselves</a>, so don&#39;t give in to the hype of &quot;keeping up the Joneses&quot; through social media. Believe me: you&#39;ll be happier and healthier just focusing on you and not giving a toss about how many likes/shares/retweets you get on a daily basis. &nbsp;</p><p><strong>Talk it out</strong></p><p>Sometimes, all it takes is a few words of wisdom from people who&#39;ve been exactly where you are (broke, unemployed and terrified that they won&#39;t make it out of their 20s with their sanity intact) to make you feel a little bit better about your own situation. For example, when Rick Kogan told me he was <a href="https://soundcloud.com/afternoonshiftwbez/meet-wbezs-newest-bloggers" target="_blank">driving a taxi cab at 25</a>&nbsp;and hadn&#39;t even begun his <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/about/chicagolive/kogan/chi-chicagolive-rick-kogan,0,6672531.htmlstory" target="_blank">now-legendary career</a>&nbsp;in Chicago journalism, I didn&#39;t feel quite so crushed about not being a famous film critic before age 24 as I had originally planned. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Don&#39;t worry about things that haven&#39;t happened yet</strong></p><p>Most of our anxieties are <a href="http://www.angelfire.com/hi/TheSeer/stress.html" target="_blank">fictitious</a>&nbsp;(perceived, not actual),&nbsp;meaning we constantly worry about things that don&#39;t actually happen. Instead of immediately jumping to the worst-case scenario when you&#39;re feeling stressed, try focusing on the present moment and asking yourself: &quot;How can I be the best _______ I can be, and enjoy the process?&quot; My dad used to repeat this cliched little nugget of advice to me over and over again, to the point that I never wanted to hear him say it again. Then one day, it hit me like a sledgehammer: <em>&quot;How can I be the best writer I can be, and enjoy the process?&quot;&nbsp;</em></p><p>I&#39;d finally figured it out: be your best self, and the rest will follow.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Follow Leah on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a> or add her on<a href="http://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank"> Facebook</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Thu, 21 Feb 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-02/surviving-unemployment-anxiety-105618 Prosecutors charge 32 people from Chicago area with lying to collect unemployment checks http://www.wbez.org/news/prosecutors-charge-32-people-chicago-area-lying-collect-unemployment-checks-105109 <p><p>Thirty-two people from the Chicago area are facing criminal charges for illegally collecting unemployment checks. The U.S. Attorney&rsquo;s office in Chicago is bringing the charges against those who allegedly filed for unemployment improperly.</p><p>Prosecutors say the 32 either had a job or were under-reporting their income. Federal prosecutors say the defendants allegedly collected anywhere from $19,000 to $38,000.</p><p>Twenty-seven are charged with felonies; five are charged with misdemeanor theft.</p><p>The felony counts carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as mandatory restitution. The misdemeanor counts have a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.</p><p>Jay Rowell heads Illinois&rsquo; Department of Employment Security says there is an uptick of fraudulent claims.</p><p>&quot;Since there have been extended federal benefits, you know, there&rsquo;s more of an incentive for people to attempt to defraud the system,&quot; Rowell said.</p><p>Rowell said he also wants to crack down on other cases of unemployment fraud in Illinois, smaller than what the feds have allegedly found.</p><p>&quot;In my mind, paying out one penny improperly is something that needs to be addressed,&quot; he said.</p><p>Federal prosecutors say the 32 defendants defrauded the unemployment office of nearly $900,000 in total.</p><p>Illinois unemployment benefits are funded primarily by employers, while IDES administrative costs are funded primarily by the federal government.</p></p> Thu, 24 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/prosecutors-charge-32-people-chicago-area-lying-collect-unemployment-checks-105109 One in three Illinois residents in or near poverty, according to Heartland Alliance report http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/one-three-illinois-residents-or-near-poverty-according-heartland-alliance-report <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F75108253%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-nuLbU" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>The Heartland Alliance&rsquo;s Social Impact Research Center<a href="http://www.ilpovertyreport.org/"> released a report today</a> that suggest nearly a third of Illinois residents live in or near poverty.</p><p>Amy Terpstra has worked on the annual report for the Heartland Alliance for years. She sees poverty statistics all the time. But this year, she says, even she was shocked.</p><p>The study, done by the Heartland Alliances Social Impact Research Center, revealed that one in three Illinois residents are in poverty, or very close to falling into poverty.</p><p>Terpstra says that the recession and high unemployment rates play a role. But the study suggests that the rising poverty problem started even before the financial crisis and has to do with the long-term growth of low-wage jobs.</p><p>&ldquo;You can work full-time, year round and still fall below the poverty line,&rdquo; Terpstra said.</p><p>In fact, 100,000 residents in Illinois do just that: live below the poverty line despite full-time labor. The Federal poverty line is 19,090 for a family of three.</p><p>But that doesn&rsquo;t even paint the full picture, according to Terpstra. She says when you consider the actual cost of living in Illinois, some families above the poverty line also have trouble making ends meet. That&rsquo;s why the study also measures near-poverty (up to twice the Federal poverty line.)</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Untitled.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: left; height: 469px; width: 300px;" title="(graph courtesy of the Heartland Alliance)" /></p><p><strong>Poverty in the Suburbs</strong></p><p>The study explored who is most likely to be in poverty.&nbsp;</p><p>Many of the findings aren&rsquo;t new. Women, minorities, children, and the elderly are all at risk of being poor. But there is also a surprising growth of poverty in the suburbs.</p><p>In fact, there wasn&rsquo;t a single Chicago suburb that didn&rsquo;t have at least a 20 percent rate of poverty.</p><p>Suburban poverty presents its own challenges. Take the example of&nbsp; Kathy Kirwin in Dupage County. Kirwin&rsquo;s 55 and works through a temp agency.&nbsp; Right now, she works a mailroom job. But it&rsquo;s not enough.</p><p>&ldquo;I just became homeless in May of 2012 and started living in my car in August,&rdquo; Kirwin said.</p><div><p>In the suburbs, the distance between social service agencies can be far. Kerwin says she has trouble getting to shelters.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like, I got two quarters of a tank. Is that going to be enough to do all the things I need to do to get to work everyday,&rdquo; Kirwin said.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Can I go take a shower? Can I go to the food pantries?&rdquo;</p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/TotalILPop.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: left; height: 296px; width: 300px;" title="(graph courtesy of the Heartland Alliance)" /><p>Currently she has a membership to a 24-hour gym. That allows her to shower when she can&rsquo;t get into a shelter, and find warmth when temperatures dip low.</p><p><strong>Looking towards solutions</strong></p><p>In addition to painting a picture of poverty, the study also suggests possible solutions, like raising the minimum wage.</p><p>Despite the perception that low-wage work is usually held by teenagers, the study revealed that 80 percent of people working minimum wage jobs are over age 20.</p><p>Another key suggestion was better access to housing.</p><p>Jacqueline Pierro is a single mother, full-time student, and holds down several part time jobs.</p><p>&ldquo;If it weren&rsquo;t for used clothing and food banks, we wouldn&rsquo;t survive,&rdquo; she said.&nbsp;</p><p>Pierro says her income would barely cover rent, but recently she received Section 8 housing after two years on the waiting list.<br /><br />&ldquo;That was like winning the lottery, because it&rsquo;s so hard to get,&rdquo; Pierro said.</p><p>The day she got Section 8 housing was the day Pierro says she signed up for college.</p><p>Another solution the study suggests is allowing poor families to build up savings. Currently, you cannot have assets if you want to receive most public benefits. Pierro says she could support herself better if she could build a small savings for unexpected bills that she and her child often face.</p><p>&ldquo;You basically have to sell off the foundation of your life to get help, and you can&rsquo;t rebuild that foundation because if you do you are automatically kicked off with whatever you do have,&rdquo; Pierro said.&nbsp;</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 16 Jan 2013 07:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/one-three-illinois-residents-or-near-poverty-according-heartland-alliance-report