The best, long-term solution to homelessness, food insecurity, the affordable housing gap, and community violence is to create more and better job opportunities for our unemployed and under-employed residents. People want to work, and we as a City should be doing everything we can to ensure that they find meaningful employment.
As Alderman I have fought to discourage fast food jobs from coming into Evanston, because those aren’t the kind of jobs we need here. Rather, we need to encourage the creation of better jobs that will provide a career and prospects for advancement rather than just a weekly paycheck. And we need to do more to train our local workforce for those jobs. During my eight years on Council we have made progress in this area:
- In 2009 the unemployment rate in Evanston had soared above 8%. By year end 2016 unemployment in Evanston was 4.3% (lower than the national average).
- We have encouraged businesses to move to Evanston. This past year alone 86 new businesses opened their doors in our City.
- We have encouraged businesses that locate here to stay.
- We established the Skilled Trades program in partnership with Northwestern University. This program provides apprenticeships to local men and women — all of whom have found work in the trades after completing the program.
- We established the Summer Youth Employment program, which last year provided jobs to 750 young people 14 years and up.
As Mayor, I will build on these successes with the following actions:
- I will push for the continued expansion of the Summer Youth Employment program. Department of Labor statistics prove that teenagers who participate in summer job programs are more likely to graduate high school, less likely to enter the juvenile justice system and will (on average) earn more over their lifetimes as an adult than teenagers who do not do so.
- I will likewise seek to expand our commitment to workforce training to create more apprenticeship programs in partnership with Northwestern University, Oakton Community College, and Evanston Township High School. We have seen great success with ETHS’s job training programs such as Auto-Shop and “Geometry in Construction.”
- I will explore opportunities to create better adult workforce training (and re-training) so that residents can find careers that provide better pay and opportunities for advancement.
- I will, consistent with my economic development goals, seek to bring more and better jobs to Evanston.
- I will advocate for an increase in the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour.