CHICAGO — For most of his adult life, De’Angelo Mack, 32, worked odd jobs—at places such as a mattress warehouse, a candy factory and FedEx—that lasted a couple of weeks or months.

When he looked for more permanent employment after the pandemic hit, he had a tough time.

“I started trying to change my life, but I thought it was too late,” Mack said. “Because the jobs I was looking for…they were rejecting me.”

After two years, Mack found stable employment at a café through a workforce development agency that connects Black Chicagoans with jobs.

Mack’s struggle is emblematic of larger trends across Chicago and Illinois. Black unemployment is 10.9% statewide, more than three times higher than for white residents.

Persistently high Black unemployment in the city can be traced to widening youth unemployment, a sluggish pandemic recovery and the outmigration of middle-class Black residents from the city.


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