WBEZ | Unemployment http://www.wbez.org/tags/unemployment Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Some States Are Cutting Poor Dads A Deal On Unpaid Child Support http://www.wbez.org/news/some-states-are-cutting-poor-dads-deal-unpaid-child-support-113877 <p><div id="res456639793"><div data-resid="456639793" id="slideshowGallery456639793"><div><p>When the state of Maryland wanted to reach dads who were behind on their child support payments, it started in the boarded-up blocks of West Baltimore, in neighborhoods marked by drugs, violence and unemployment.</p><p>In just four zip code areas, the state identified 4,642 people who owed more than $30 million in back child support. Most of that was &quot;state-owed,&quot; meaning that rather than going to the child through the custodial parent, it&#39;s supposed to reimburse taxpayers for welfare paid to the child&#39;s mother.</p><p>This is a source of great resentment for many men, who say they want their money to go to their children. But most who owe it can&#39;t pay anyway, as they earn less than $10,000 a year.</p><p>&quot;So even if we use taxpayer dollars to chase &#39;em down, and we catch &#39;em, right, and we go into their pockets, there&#39;s nothing in there,&quot; says Joe Jones of Baltimore&#39;s Center for Urban Families.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cfuf.JPG" style="height: 390px; width: 540px;" title="The Center for Urban Families in Baltimore is a nonprofit that provides job training, parenting programs and other help for low-income families. (Jun Tsuboike/NPR)" /></div></div><div>Are they deadbeat?</div></div></div><p>Joseph DiPrimio, head of Maryland&#39;s child support enforcement office, doesn&#39;t like that expression.</p><p>&quot;I think that&#39;s vulgar. I don&#39;t use it,&quot; he says.</p><p>DiPrimio prefers &quot;dead broke.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re talking about individuals that are economically challenged, they&#39;re underemployed, but they want to do the right thing,&quot; he says.</p><p>Unpaid child support in the U.S. has climbed to $113 billion, and enforcement agencies have given up on collecting much of it. They say too many men simply don&#39;t have the money.</p><p>What&#39;s more, research shows that high child-support debt can leave parents feeling so hopeless that they give up trying to pay it.</p><p><strong>Breaking Through The Distrust</strong></p><p>Like a growing number of state government officials, Maryland&#39;s DiPrimio wanted to make parents an offer. But he needed their trust, and that was a problem.</p><p><img accept="" alt="" cannot="" class="image-original_image" grant="" i="" me="" serenity="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Participants%20led%20by%20facilitator%20Eddie%20Pitchford%20form%20the%20Chain%20of%20Unity%20at%20the%20conclusion%20of%20the%20Responsible%20Fatherhood%20meeting..JPG" style="height: 206px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" the="" they="" things="" title="Participants led by facilitator Eddie Pitchford form the Chain of Unity at the conclusion of the Responsible Fatherhood meeting. " to="" /></p><p>Research shows high child support debt can leave parents feeling so hopeless that they give up trying to pay it.</p><p>And sting operations to round up parents who owed child support have happened all over the country, including Baltimore. In a typical ruse, agencies have sent fake letters telling parents they won tickets to a football bowl game, for instance &mdash; but when they showed up to collect, they were arrested instead.</p><p>To break through years of distrust, Maryland sent letters to parents with the logo of the Center for Urban Families, a nonprofit in West Baltimore that provides job training and other help to poor families.</p><p>They made this offer: If the parent takes the center&#39;s month-long employment training course and lands a job, the state will forgive 10 percent of his or her child support debt. If they complete a Responsible Fatherhood program, the state will write off another 15 percent. One of the first persons to sign up was a mother, though the vast majority of noncustodial parents are men.</p><p>In a separate &quot;debt compromise&quot; program, Maryland will also write off 50 percent of a parent&#39;s child support debt if they maintain monthly payments for a year.</p><p>Response has been slow. In two years, slightly more than 100 parents have signed on.</p><div id="res456668086" previewtitle="From left, Stephen Johnson, Harrelle Felipa and Cornelius Dixon attend a Responsible Fatherhood meeting at the Center for Urban Families on Nov. 11 in Baltimore. In exchange for participation in programs such as this, the state will reduce the men's child support debt."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="From left, Stephen Johnson, Harrelle Felipa and Cornelius Dixon attend a Responsible Fatherhood meeting at the Center for Urban Families on Nov. 11 in Baltimore. In exchange for participation in programs such as this, the state will reduce the men's child support debt." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/19/responsible-fathers-meeting-jtsuboike-0399-edit-deaa96de02f501a6266c8882ce230ddbf017d974-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 464px; width: 620px;" title="From left, Stephen Johnson, Harrelle Felipa and Cornelius Dixon attend a Responsible Fatherhood meeting at the Center for Urban Families on Nov. 11 in Baltimore. In exchange for participation in programs such as this, the state will reduce the men's child support debt." /></div><div><div><p>Many of them attend fatherhood meetings like one held on a recent Wednesday night. Two dozen men &mdash; 20-something to middle age, in sweats and in suits &mdash; sit in a large square.</p></div></div></div><p>Some complain their exes won&#39;t let them see their child if they haven&#39;t paid child support. Others don&#39;t understand why it doesn&#39;t count as support when they take their kids out to eat, or buy them clothes &mdash; or say they would do those sorts of things for their kids if their child support obligation wasn&#39;t so heavy.</p><p>Mostly, like 30-year-old Lee Ford, they say it&#39;s so hard to find work</p><p>&quot;You telling me no matter what, I gotta pay. But I can&#39;t get a job to work to save my soul,&quot; he says.</p><p>Group leader Eddie White cuts no slack.</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/Group%20leader%20Eddie%20White%20speaks%20during%20the%20meeting.%20Around%20two%20dozen%20men%20%E2%80%94%2020-something%20to%20middle%20age%2C%20in%20sweats%20and%20in%20suits%20%E2%80%94%20sit%20in%20a%20large%20square%20each%20week%20and%20discuss%20topics%20ranging%20from%20parenting%2C%20debt%20and%20unemployment..JPG" style="height: 420px; width: 620px;" title="Group leader Eddie White speaks during the meeting. Around two dozen men — 20-something to middle age, in sweats and in suits — sit in a large square each week and discuss topics ranging from parenting, debt and unemployment. (Jun Tsuboike/NPR)" /></div><p>&quot;If you know you got a criminal record, sure it&#39;s gonna be hard for you to get a job. But it don&#39;t mean you can&#39;t work,&quot; White says.</p><p>A big part of this class is also educational. White asks the men what a person who is paying child support should do if he gets laid off or loses his job.</p><p>&quot;There you go, that&#39;s the word. Immediately,&quot; White says. &quot;Immediately ask the court for an adjustment.&quot;</p><p><strong>Other Approaches To Debt Relief</strong></p><p>Maryland&#39;s program is part of a larger effort to keep impoverished parents from racking up child support debt in the first place.</p><p>Some states are trying to speed up the cumbersome process of adjusting an order when a parent loses a job. Ohio has experimented with sending simple reminders &mdash; by phone, mail or text &mdash; to parents who need to send in monthly payments. Texas has reached out to newly incarcerated parents, to let them know they can apply to have their payments reduced while in prison &mdash; something not all states allow.</p><p>&quot;We sent out a teaser postcard trying to combat the ostrich effect,&quot; says Emily Schmidt, a research analyst with the U.S. Administration for Children and Families, who helped with the Texas effort.</p><p>Schmidt says there was concern that someone going through the emotional transition of incarceration wouldn&#39;t likely be thinking about child support, and may not even open a letter from the state. So they printed the postcard on blue paper to stand out, and, taking a cue from marketers, it said, &quot;Four easy steps to lowering your child support.&quot;</p><p>After 100 days, the response rate among parents was up 11 percent, &quot;a very low-cost intervention for a fairly dramatic effect,&quot; Schmidt says.</p><p>The Obama administration wants to &quot;right size&quot; child support orders from the start, and has proposed regulations to make sure they are set according to what parents actually earn. Officials say some jurisdictions base orders on a full-time minimum wage, even if a parent earns far less. They say this can backfire, leaving so little money after a parent&#39;s wages are garnished that he or she quits and works underground instead.</p><p>The White House&#39;s proposals also would provide more job training for parents with child support debt &mdash; something Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution says is a good investment.</p><p>&quot;More fathers will get a job, more fathers will have earnings, and more fathers will use those earnings to pay child support,&quot; he says.</p><p>So far, that&#39;s what&#39;s happened in Baltimore. The numbers are small. But the amount of child support that&#39;s been paid is more than double the amount of debt written off.</p><p>Maryland wants to expand its child support debt forgiveness program, hoping to help more parents to pay what they can.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/20/456353691/some-states-are-cutting-poor-dads-a-deal-on-unpaid-child-support?ft=nprml&amp;f=456353691" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 14:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/some-states-are-cutting-poor-dads-deal-unpaid-child-support-113877 Hesitant to increase wages, some employers add perks instead http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-03/hesitant-increase-wages-some-employers-add-perks-instead-113608 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/1102_gyms-biz-e1446480067207-624x356.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_95344"><img alt="Employers are providing perks, such as gym memberships, to their employers, while showing reluctance to raise wages. (E'lisa Campbell/Flickr)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/11/1102_gyms-biz-e1446480067207-624x356.jpg" style="height: 354px; width: 620px;" title="Employers are providing perks, such as gym memberships, to their employers, while showing reluctance to raise wages. (E’lisa Campbell/Flickr)" /><p>Unemployment may be at its lowest level in seven years, but wages for workers<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/stuck-place-american-economy-113519" target="_blank"> have not been increasing</a>.</p></div><p>It appears that a number of companies are hesitant to increase wages, but are adding other benefits, such as signing bonuses, more paid time off or gym memberships.</p><p><a href="https://twitter.com/DKThomp" target="_blank">Derek Thompson</a>, senior editor at The Atlantic, joins <em>Here &amp; Now&rsquo;s </em>Peter O&rsquo;Dowd to discuss why the trend.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/11/02/perks-wages-employers" target="_blank"><em>via Here &amp; Now</em></a></p></p> Tue, 03 Nov 2015 10:45:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-03/hesitant-increase-wages-some-employers-add-perks-instead-113608 Englewood girls learn how to restore furniture, and their community http://www.wbez.org/news/englewood-girls-learn-how-restore-furniture-and-their-community-110759 <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/furniture%20thumb.jpg" title="Jamika Smith is the founder of Teena’s Legacy, a furniture reupholstery apprenticeship program named for her grandmother. (Courtesy of Jamika Smith)" /></div><p>Four young women are in an airy living room in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood. They are learning how to reupholster second-hand furniture. As the sound of a stapler echoes throughout the home, one is pulling them out from a worn chair.</p><p>Across the room Laquisha Clinton refurbishes a foot stool. She picked out some fabric the color of regal purple.</p><p>&ldquo;It shows my gratitude and attitude toward fashion,&rdquo; Clinton said.</p><p>Jamika Smith is trying to teach a trade that she hopes will lead to self discovery for a group of Englewood girls. There&rsquo;s a lot of talk about the high youth unemployment rate in Chicago. For black youth, the figure is close to 90 percent. But girls are sometimes left out of the conversation.</p><p>Smith first learned how to restore furniture from her grandmother Miss Teena. As a teen, she didn&rsquo;t always appreciate her grandmother&rsquo;s skills. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I did not,&rdquo; Smith said laughing. &ldquo;But she used to have my brother and I garbage dump. Go down alleys and pick up dressers and chairs and things to that nature so it was kind of embarrassing.&rdquo;</p><p>But the garbage dump isn&rsquo;t so bad now. That&rsquo;s where she finds pieces for the girls in her apprentice group. She calls it <a href="https://www.facebook.com/teenalegacy">Teena&rsquo;s Legacy</a> in honor of her late grandmother.</p><p>Smith said learning a trade is important but she has bigger aspirations for these girls.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s more of how these young women find out who they are as individuals, finding out what is their style. Finding out what do they like and what kind of woman to they aspire to be.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/furniture%20inset.jpg" style="height: 444px; width: 250px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;" title="Laquisha Clinton refurbishes a foot stool as part of Teena’s Legacy. (Natalie Moore/WBEZ)" />For Smith, repairing furniture is a metaphor.</p><p>&ldquo;The whole concept is you have this chair that needs restoring and reviving and there may be something in your life that needs restoring and reviving, too.&rdquo;</p><p>All the girls are from Englewood, a neighborhood rocked by high unemployment and poverty with few activities for youth.</p><p>&ldquo;I probably would be outside with my friends all summer on the streets even though I know the streets can be dangerous,&rdquo; said 17-year old Jannie Ross. She&rsquo;s wearing a Cleveland Browns football jersey as she puts the final touches on a cotton candy colored chair. She painted it pink and added fake fur.</p><p>&ldquo;Fluffy is just like my personality. Bubbly. The pink feels sympathy for me. Because I have a lot of sympathy for some people I know going through a lot of stuff like I am,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Now Jannie&rsquo;s adding rhinestones. The blinged-out chair looks like it belongs in a Las Vegas hotel.</p><p>Teena&rsquo;s Legacy is a pilot summer program. Smith wants to raise more money to work with more girls throughout the year.</p><p>Smith said her young charges may not go into the furniture business full time. She hasn&rsquo;t. But knowing a trade gives them a chance to earn a little money on the side.</p><p>&ldquo;At the end of the day it&rsquo;s important that we invest in our women because they are powerful and they do have influence,&rdquo; Smith said.</p><p>Take Shawtiana Clinton, for example. She took an &ldquo;ugly brown chair,&rdquo; as she describes it, and put a new pattern on it.</p><p>&ldquo;I picked cheetah because it&rsquo;s powerful.&rdquo;</p><p>Shawtiana said that print now makes her feel powerful.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>&nbsp;Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Fri, 05 Sep 2014 12:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/englewood-girls-learn-how-restore-furniture-and-their-community-110759 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