Growing Disparities Belie Chicago's Bloom

Recent exultant headlines about downtown's astounding growth overlook Chicago's troubling bifurcation into two cities — "one where optimism abounds, one where hope and opportunity are hard to find," writes Marilyn Katz.

While recent data indicates that downtown Chicago is America's hottest urban center, those numbers don't tell the full story of the city's economy. "While Chicago is on the rebound from the worst of the recession, the recovery has been far less robust here than in all major cities, except Miami and Detroit," writes Katz. "Many Chicagoans are poorer than they were before the economic downturn."

"The very structure of Chicago's economy has changed," Katz explains. "Over the last decade, particularly in the last five years, Chicago lost thousands of good-paying jobs in construction, manufacturing and government, while gaining jobs in retail, hospitality and professional services, which pay far less."

"This snapshot represents a painful change for many of the city's residents. Illinois earned the dubious distinction as the state where income disparities have grown the most, with incomes of the richest up by more than 11 percent and middle- and working-class folks down by 15 percent."

Katz ends her piece by imploring the city to commit to growing good-paying jobs, investing in legacy industries, assisting recent graduates, welcoming new immigrants, and supporting entrepreneurs, "to make the city a place of opportunity, not just for the few, but for all who choose to call Chicago home."

Full Story: Chicago turning into a tale of 2 cities

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