Black, Brown Chicago neighborhoods endure highest poverty rates
Minority neighborhoods on Chicago’s South Side and West Side face poverty rates of up to 51%.
More than 450,000 Chicagoans suffer through poverty every day, at a rate of 17.2%. But the problem is worse if you live in a minority neighborhood.
Neighborhoods where members of minorities are in the majority are concentrated on the South Side and West Side. Residents face poverty of nearly three times the citywide average.
If you live in Riverdale, on the city’s far South Side, your chances of being below the poverty line are 51% – more than 1 in 2. That’s the highest rate of any of Chicago’s 77 community areas. In Fuller Park, it’s 48.8%. It’s also high in Washington Park (46.9%), East Garfield Park (45.5%), and Englewood (40%). The neighborhoods are occupied almost entirely by minority residents. That’s inequitable.
New analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau further details the neighborhoods where Chicagoans are most likely to be living below the federal poverty line.
Extremely high poverty rates in dense minority neighborhoods is a large reason why citywide, Black Chicagoans face poverty at a rate of 28.7%. That’s nearly triple what white Chicagoans experience at 10.3%.
The Asian population has a poverty rate of 18.2% – more than 76% higher than the white population. The Hispanic and Latino population faces a poverty rate of 14.8%.
The statistics on poverty in Chicago also offer insights into what can be done to combat these issues. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows employment status is the single-most important factor impacting the poverty rate. Full-time employees in Chicago not only face lower poverty rates than Americans in other large cities, but securing full-time, year-round employment virtually eliminates the odds of being in poverty.
Education is also closely linked to poverty reduction, as the likelihood of employment is associated with increased educational attainment. Meanwhile, research shows education improves lifetime earnings and median earnings improve with every level of education completed. The combined employment and earnings potential effects of education also contribute to major differences in poverty rates, with each higher level of educational attainment being associated with lower instances of poverty.
Those focused on addressing these inequalities and improving outcomes among Chicagoans should keep these facts in mind as they weigh how to address Chicago’s poverty crisis. Evidence suggests anti-poverty programs that incentivize work have been effective in increasing employment and raising incomes to promote upward mobility.
Future poverty alleviation solutions should focus on better employment outcomes for capable individuals. Removing cumbersome regulations, improving the quality of education and fostering an environment in which employees, employers and communities can flourish present opportunities for public policy solutions that can reduce poverty and improve the lives of Chicagoans – regardless of their income status.