For Rent signs advertise the empty storefront of the former Paulina Foods in the McKinley Park neighborhood.

Youth Unemployment, High Rent Burdens Stand Out in McKinley Park Data from Heartland Alliance

Published February 20, 2021

The McKinley Park neighborhood's place within Chicago and among its Southwest Side brethren stands out in a new data tool from the Heartland Alliance. Using a host of social, economic and demographic indicators, the Chicago Community Data Portal shares facts like McKinley Park’s higher poverty rate, but fewer number of violent crimes and homicides, than virtually every nearby community.

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Diving into the tool, which made its debut in fall 2020 and displays data through 2018, shows that the McKinley Park neighborhood falls squarely in the middle of about a dozen key indicators of education, community health and economic opportunity, as well as displays some unique outliers.

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Many Unemployed Youth

Youth unemployment spiked in 2018 in the McKinley Park neighborhood, rising to 49.7 percent over the citywide average of 36.3 percent. Youth unemployment in McKinley Park was listed as higher than every adjacent community area, in most cases by double digits.

Overall unemployment for McKinley Park was listed at 10.1 percent in 2018, nearly identical to Brighton Park’s 10.2 percent unemployment rate. The Lower West Side, which includes the Pilsen and Heart of Chicago neighborhoods, had the lowest nearby unemployment rate nearby at 6.6 percent, followed by the Bridgeport Community Area at 8.2 percent.

The New City Community Area, which includes the Back of the Yards neighborhood south of McKinley Park, had the highest nearby unemployment rate at 17.2 percent. Chicago’s overall unemployment rate was listed at 8.9 percent.

Homeownership and Rent Burdens

At 58.6 percent in 2018, the rent burden in the McKinley Park neighborhood – defined as tenant households spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent – was higher than every adjacent community area and the Chicago-wide average, which was 50.2 percent.

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McKinley Park’s decreasing homeownership rate was listed at 60.2 percent in 2018, lower than Chicago’s average of 67.1 percent, and in the middle of the pack compared to adjacent community areas.

Asian-Americans had the highest rates of homeownership in 2018 in McKinley Park at 80.4 percent, followed by white homeowners at 58.5 percent and Latinos at 49.2 percent.

The 2018 home ownership rate for McKinley Park’s Asian-Americans massively exceeded that of Chicago overall (at 46.4 percent) and was matched nearby only by the Brighton Park Community Area, which boasted an 80.4 percent Asian-American home ownership rate.

Community Health

McKinley Park residents were expected to live longer than those in every adjacent community area and, on average, throughout Chicago. The 2018 life expectancy rate of 81.2 years of age for McKinley Park was closely followed by the Lower West Side (80.2 years), Brighton Park (79.5 years) and Bridgeport (79 years). Chicago’s average life expectancy in 2018 was 77 years.

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McKinley Park’s rate of those without health insurance, at 12.2 percent in 2018, was higher than that of Chicago’s average of 10.7 percent, but lower than that of Brighton Park (21.2 percent), New City (18.9 percent) and the Lower West Side (18.3 percent).

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Enrollment in the Illinois Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was received by 21.7 percent of McKinley Park’s residents in 2018, more than Bridgeport’s 16.2 percent, but less than New City (at 36 percent) and Brighton Park (at 24.7 percent).

Educational Attainment

Data on 2018 educational attainment showed that 21.3 percent of McKinley Park residents had bachelor degrees, placing it in the middle of the pack between Bridgeport (at 31.8 percent) and the Lower West Side (at 31.3 percent), and Brighton Park (at 9.8 percent) and New City (at 7.6 percent).

In McKinley Park, 30.3 percent of residents had attained a high school diploma or GED in 2018, higher than the Lower West Side (at 19.4 percent), Bridgeport (at 22.9 percent) and Chicago overall at (22.9 percent). Higher rates were found in Brighton Park, where 36 percent of residents are high school graduates, and in New City, where 46.6 percent are graduates.

Heartland Data Tool

The dashboards in the Heartland Alliance’s data portal provide much more information, broken down by Chicago community area. It offers data snapshots over time – usually over a handful of years – and multi-point comparisons to integrate factors like race and gender into data results.

“It’s a dynamic comparison of neighborhoods’ economic data and social data,” said Heartland Alliance Director of Research Katie Buitrago. “When we have a clearer picture of the societal challenges faced by our communities, we can better plan a path forward.”

The Heartland Alliance noted that the data used to create the tool comes from trusted original sources, including the Census’ American Community Survey, the Illinois State Board of Education, Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Health Atlas and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

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“The idea from the beginning has been to host in one place important information across communities and across several years for all of Chicago’s neighborhoods so we can track trends and identify opportunities,” said Don Cooke of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, an organizational co-partner of the project.

2018 Community Demographics from the Chicago Community Data Portal: 

  McKinley Park Brighton Park Bridgeport New City Lower West Side Chicago Overall
White  17.1% 6.8% 33.4%  11.7% 18%  32.8%
Black  1% 1.1% 2.6% 23.6% 3.5%  29.7%
Latino  56.4% 83.1% 23.4% 61.7% 74%  29%
Asian  6.4% 8% 39.3% 2.1% 3.3%  6.4%
Female  49.8% 48.6% 50.3% 49.7% 48.3%  51.4%
Male  50.2% 51.4% 49.7% 50.3% 51.7%  48.6%
0-4 Years Old  6.9% 7.5% 5.3% 8.2% 5%  6.5%
5-17 Years Old  16.5% 21.5% 13.3% 20.4% 14.6%  14.7%
18-24 Years Old  11.1% 11.1% 7.7% 11.2% 11.3%  10.2%
25-64 Years Old  54.9% 51.2% 60.9% 49% 59%  56.6%
65 Years and Older  10.6% 8.6% 12.7% 11.3% 10.1%  12%
Total population  15,920 45.031 33,888 39,542  32,789  2,718,555
Poverty  22.6% 22.6% 17.4% 29.1% 20.6%  19.5%
Extreme Poverty  7.6% 7.5% 7.1% 12.8% 8%  9%
Child Poverty  38.2% 33% 21.1% 44.7% 31.5%  28.9%

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