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NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE’S STATE OF BLACK AMERICA REPORT: Chicago Ranks Near the Bottom in Areas of Unemployment Equality and Income Equality


May 17, 2016


Chelsea Whittington, External Affairs Manager

(773) 451-3524


Chicago Urban League Endorses “Main Street Marshall Plan”  To Address Social and Economic Inequities


[Chicago] (May 17, 2016) – According to the 2016 State of Black America® report, Chicago ranked 62 out of 70 in unemployment equality and 65 out of 70 in income equality.

Chicago Urban League (CUL) President and CEO Shari Runner said the sobering statistics were not surprising and align with the results of the neighborhood racial residential segregation study that CUL released in March, which supports the theory that America continues to dissect into societies that are separate and unequal.

“After 40 years, we should be up in arms that African Americans across the nation and, especially in Chicago, are still not equally employed nor equally compensated in comparison to our White counterparts,” said Runner. “This urgent state of affairs clearly calls out the work that needs to be done to address these disparities, which is why CUL is preparing to release a 10-year plan to improve the 19 communities that remain them most underserved in Chicago as identified through our research.

In addition, the National Urban League has developed the Main Street Marshall Plan. We are eager to implement these plans to effect immediate change in the economic outlook for African Americans.”

The National Urban League today released the 40th edition of its signature report and outlined a comprehensive national remedy for the persistent inequities the report details.

“In the very first State of Black America report in 1976, then-president Vernon Jordan wrote, ‘The urgency of the problems that grip the American people allow no time for delay or for half-way measures,’” National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said. “Sadly, the problems he described 40 years ago continue to grip the American people, and it’s long past time to meet them with full-measured urgency.”

The Main Street Marshall Plan: From Poverty To Shared Prosperity, unveiled today during a live broadcast from the Newseum’s Knight Studio in Washington, D.C., is a sweeping and decisive solution to the nation’s persistent social and economic disparities.  It calls for a $1 trillion investment over five years and includes:

·         Universal early childhood education

·         A federal living wage indexed to inflation

·         An urban infrastructure fund to fund schools, community centers, libraries, water systems and urban transportation

·         A new Main Street small- and micro-business financing plan with emphasis on businesses owned by women and people of color

·         Expansion of summer youth employment programs

·         A combination of tax credits, training programs and expansion of the social safety net

The full report can be found at

Each year the State of Black America® provides a comprehensive, data-driven assessment of where black and Latino Americans stand in relation to their white counterparts in the United States. The 2016 edition, “Locked Out: Education, Jobs and Justice” includes a 40-year retrospective.  From the report:

“In 1976, schools had been legally desegregated 22 years, the Civil Rights Act of 1963 was 13 years old, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 had been in place 11 years, and the economy was one year into economic recovery from the recession that lasted from November 1973 to March 1975.  Still, blacks were nearly twice as likely as whites to be unemployed, the median black household had only 59 cents for every dollar of income in the median white household, and African Americans were three times more likely to live in poverty than whites.”

According to the most recent estimates, the black poverty rate is now 2.4 percentage points lower than in 1976 (down to 27% from 29.4%).

Since 2004, the State of Black America included the Equality IndexTM, a quantitative tool for tracking Black-white racial equality in America. The 2016 Equality Index of Black America stands at 72.2%, just slightly higher than the revised 2015 index of 72.0%

The largest increase in this year’s index was in the area of education (from 76.1% to 77.4%), with smaller increases in economics (from 55.5% to 56.2%) and social justice (60.6% to 60.8%).  The civic engagement index declined sharply over the last year (from 104.0% to 100.6%) while the health index (from 79.6% to 79.4%) declined slightly.

The 2016 Equality Index of Hispanic America stands at 77.8% compared to a revised 2015 index of 77.3 percent.

About the Chicago Urban League

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