Hispanics have bypassed blacks as Chicago’s second-largest racial or ethnic group and spread out into more neighborhoods. But education, jobs, health care and other city services have not caught up to that growth.
That’s the bottom line of a comprehensive new report released Wednesday by the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Institute for Research, Race and Public Policy and UIC’s Great Cities Institute.
The report examines a dozen Chicago neighborhoods where Latinos have emerged as the largest racial/ethnic group, defined as at least 25,000 people. They are: Gage Park (92 percent); Brighton Park and South Lawndale (85 percent); Lower West Side (81 percent); Belmont-Cragin and West Lawn (80 percent); New City (61 percent); Humboldt Park (52 percent); Albany Park and Chicago Lawn (48 percent); Irving Park and Logan Square (47 percent).
In seven of those neighborhoods, Hispanics had dramatically lower annual income levels than whites. The disparity ranged from $5,559 in South Lawndale to $46,283 in Logan Square, the report states.
In five of those neighborhoods, Hispanic home ownership lagged dramatically behind the citywide average of 44.3 percent — and with higher rates of foreclosure.
Eleven more neighborhoods have “large concentrations” of Hispanics, the report states. So do many suburbs.
That’s a sharp contrast from 1980, when Chicago had a far smaller Hispanic population that was concentrated on the Southwest and Northwest Sides and no area outside Chicago had a Latino population higher than 20 percent.
Overall, Chicago is home to 803,476 Hispanics — 32.6 percent of the city’s population.
As alarming as the income gap is the fact that city services, job training, employment opportunities and education have not kept up with the population growth and migration. In fact, the report concludes that 32.3 percent of Chicago Hispanics 25 and over had an “educational attainment of less than a high school diploma.” That’s compared to five percent for non-Hispanic whites and 15.6 percent for African-Americans.
Another 15.7 percent of Hispanics in that group had a bachelor’s degree or higher. For whites, the figure was 62.7 percent. For blacks, it was 21.3 percent.
All twelve majority Hispanic neighborhoods had higher proportions of the population without health insurance and fewer people who held full-time jobs. Manufacturing was a glaring example. In 1960, 56 percent of Chicago’s Latino workforce was employed in manufacturing. By 2015, after decades of automation and restructuring, that had dropped to 16 percent.
The report was released Wednesday at a City Hall news conference.
Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th), chairman of the City Council’s Hispanic Caucus, jumped on the findings by demanding City Council hearings on employment practices at the CTA, where he claims the Hispanic workforce is just 13 percent Hispanic.
He also drafted an ordinance that calls for draconian measures–including cutting off “taxes, tax incentives, TIF’s intergovernmental agreements and other contributions” from the city if the CTA doesn’t do a better job of hiring Hispanics.
“That’s not a reflection of the city. … It’s just not working. … For a lot of years, our community has not really been taken seriously,” said Villegas, who has become increasingly vocal in his demands for a fair share of city jobs and contracts for Hispanics.
“This is about making sure that our community is at the table. … Of course we’re gonna get pushback — from everybody. But the reality is, we’re the fastest-growing community.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been courting Hispanics. He needs their support to make up for what’s expected to be a precipitous drop in support among African-American voters still angered by his handling of the Laquan McDonald shooting video.
Asked about the threat to cut off funding to the CTA, the mayor said Villegas will meet soon with CTA President Dorval Carter Jr. to discuss the Hispanic hiring issue.
“When you look at everything that’s going on and the investments, they’ll be pleased with the work that’s being done by Dorval at the CTA to make sure that all parts of the city are well-served,” the mayor said.