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Young Invincibles Releases New Report on Illinois Racial Inequality in Employment, Wages, and Higher Education Attainment


July 22, 2015

Contact: Sarah Schultz , 202 734 6510


[CHICAGO]  – Today, Young Invincibles released the Illinois edition of its recent national report, Closing the Race Gap, which examines employment and wage disparities among Illinois Millennials and how the state’s racial divide in higher education attainment is impacting job prospects for young adults.

The Illinois report finds that compared to their white peers, young black adults face an unemployment rate nearly three times as high, and young Latino adults face a rate about twice as high. These statewide racial disparities in unemployment are more severe than they are nationwide.

The report also finds that no matter what level of degree they hold, young white Illinoisans have a better chance of getting a job than their black peers.  On average young black adults in Illinois need to attain two additional levels of education to have the same chance of landing a job as their white peers. For example, a white young man with a high school diploma is more than twice as likely to get a job as his black peer with the same degree.

In looking at higher education attainment rates, young white adults in Illinois are nearly twice as likely as their black peers to complete four year college programs in six years, the average completion window for Bachelor’s degree graduates today. This is particularly striking when considering the value each level of education has on increasing job prospects.

For those young black Illinoisans who are able to find work, they’re not earning wages comparable to their white peers. The average young white Illinoisans’ wages are 50 percent higher than the average young black Illinoisans’ wages.

“Creating more opportunities for people of color to attain higher education is a critical step towards addressing the striking disparities in employment and wages in Illinois and nationwide,” said Eve Rips, Midwest Director at Young Invincibles. “With Illinois students paying some of highest tuition in the country, proposed cuts to higher education could further fuel racial disparities in education attainment.”

The report details a series of policy recommendations that the Illinois legislature should adopt to address these racial disparities and boost higher education attainment. Recommendations include reevaluating the process for selecting MAP grant (the state’s financial aid) recipients by financial need rather than the current first-come, first served basis; making more information about college outcomes accessible to students including, for example, job placement rates or median incomes; and strengthening resources for students to transition from community colleges to 4-year degree programs or the workforce.

Below is a chart demonstrating the gap that persists in education attainment among white young adults, black young adults and Latino young adults in Illinois:

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