Despite its notoriety, Chicago is not the murder capital of the United States -- at least three other major cities have higher per capital murder rates. But on Nov. 30, Chicago passed a grim milestone for the year: the city’s 700th murder.
"It's really a culture of death," the Rev. Marshall Hatch, a Baptist minister in Chicago’s West Garfield Park, said of the community’s young people, reports the Chicago Tribune. "There's a lot of fear and a lot of assumption that they're not going to live long."
While the city has seen a steady drop in homicides since 1990s, 2016 has seen a 56 percent spike in murders over 2015, almost matching 1998’s rate of 704.
As of Nov. 30, 4,050 people were shot in the city -- up 50 percent from 2,699 in 2015.
“If you really want to stop this epidemic of violence, the best way to stop a bullet is with a job,” Pastor Ira Acree said, notes CNN.
Chicago’s unemployment rate is the fifth-highest in the nation for metropolitan regions with 1 million people or more. Chicago’s unemployment rate for October 2016 was 5.5 percent. By comparison, the New York metropolitan area stood at 5.0 percent, and Los Angeles was 4.8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But among young black men, that figure is much starker. According to the Chicago Tribune, 47 percent of black men aged 20 to 24 are jobless. The national average is 32, while New York and Los Angeles have jobless rates of 31 percent for the same demographic.
"Conditions of joblessness are chronic, concentrated and comparatively worse than elsewhere in the country," said Teresa Cordova, director of the Great Cities Institute. She added that Chicago’s figures are "definitely at crisis proportions."
"You don't need any research, all you've got to do is come outside,” said Chicago resident Jonathan Allen, 24. “We're on 47th Street. You can see what happens when we don't have the jobs."