There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for the high number of homicides happening in Chicagoland. The midwestern city is on track to match its 2016 homicide total.
At the end of February 2016, Chicago had experienced 103 homicides. That was an increase of more than 96 percent from the year before. Matter of fact, there were a total of 52 homicides in January and February of 2015. In contrast, both 2016 and 2017 doubled 2015 numbers two years in a row.
In 2017, there were 55 homicides in January and 48 homicides in February according to the Chicago Tribune. Comparing 2017 to 2016, January saw a 3.6 percent decrease, which appeared promising. However, February made up for the decrease in homicides with a 6.7 percent increase. This bump in an otherwise traditionally quiet month for adverse socio-economic factors pushed Chicago back into the direction it desperately didn’t need to go.
In addition, it should be noted that the majority of these homicides are concentrated in the same few neighborhoods year after year. Thus, homicides along with other adverse socio-economic factors are not an acute issue. They are chronic and the science and mathematics are clear on this point.
Donate to The Systems Scientist
In 2016, 4 of the 5 neighborhoods with the highest numbers of homicides were located on Chicago’s West Side.
And now in 2017, the West Side neighborhoods of Austin, Englewood, and Garfield Park are the top 3 deadliest neighborhoods in Chicago so far this year, and one ought to expect this unfortunate reality to continue because of historical data and trends. Again, there are adverse socio-economic factors that have not been addressed.
As of this moment, and although these numbers could change in the next 24 hours, Austin has experienced 14 homicides, Garfield Park has experienced 10 homicides, and Englewood has experienced 8 homicides according to heyjackass.com (again, they provide reliable statistics and sources). North Lawndale has had 5 homicides so far this year.
If this homicide rate continues for the remainder of the year, then it is likely that Chicago will see another 785 to 800 homicides this year.
He has a Bachelor of Science, Systems Science with focuses in applied mathematics and economic systems; and he is a member of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and the International Society for the Systems Sciences.
You can connect with him directly in the comments section, and follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.
On January 2, 2014, Betsy Hodges became Mayor of Minneapolis. And in January of 2014, she acquired a 4.6 percent unemployment rate. In other words, in January 2014, the average Minneapolis worker had a 4.6 percent chance of being unemployed. Almost 3 years later, the unemployment rate for Minneapolis in December of 2016 was 3.2 percent. This means that unemployment decreased by more than 30 percent during her first term as Mayor.
But if we look at and compare the Hodges, Rybak, and Belton administrations, we will see that Mayor Hodges doesn’t have the highest reduction in unemployment for a first term Minneapolis mayor. First, we will look at unemployment data for Mayor Hodges first term.
Here’s Graph/Data Table 1 for Mayor Hodges 3 years so far:
Comparing Mayor Hodges to the previous 2 mayors – Sharon Sayles Belton and R.T. Rybak – with unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we found that Mayor Hodges so far has had the largest decrease of an unemployment rate over the course of being mayor.
However, Mayor Hodges has been in office just over 3 years while Mayor Belton served two-terms (8 years) and Mayor Rybak served three-terms (12 years). So comparing apples to apples, and oranges to oranges is important. In other words, this analysis won’t compare one-term to two-terms, one-term to three-terms, and so on and so forth.
Rather, since Mayor Hodges has only accumulated data for less than one term, we are only going to compare first terms. Thus, if we look at Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton’s first term, we will see she started her first term with an unemployment rate of 4.4 percent and ended her first term with an unemployment rate of 2.4 percent. This means unemployment decrease by more than 45 percent under Mayor Belton’s first watch.
Here’s Graph/Data Table 2 for Mayor Belton’s first term:
Finally, if we look at Mayor R.T. Rybak’s first term, we will see he started with a 5.1 percent unemployment rate and ended his first term with an unemployment rate of 3.6 percent, which was a 29 percent decrease in unemployment.
Here’s Graph/Data Table 3 for Mayor Rybak’s first term:
Of course, this data does not show us which market inputs are correlated with unemployment behavior. However, the multivariable graphs do show us how the unemployment market behaved during each first term. For example, we can observe unemployment with respect to month and year; and we can compare unemployment with respect to month and year for each mayor, while comparing one mayor’s first term to another mayor’s first term.
Matter of fact, this is how we derive how much the unemployment rate has decrease over the length of time of the first term. Let’s use Mayor Hodges as our example, although this short method can be used to find Mayors Belton and Rybak’s unemployment rate reduction as well.
What we do is subtract the month of the first term by the last month of the first term, and divide that value by the month of the first term. Does this make sense? In other words, take 4.6 minus 3.2 and divide by 4.6. This gives us 30.4 percent.
I have provided an additional table for the reader which compares the total unemployment reduction for each first term:
Using this method, we could also find out how much unemployment decreased or increased every two years. There’s a lot of information hidden in the data that can be observed and utilized with a little mathematics.
Final thought, can any of these 3 mayors take credit for the behavior of unemployment during their respective times in office?
As I tell my readers in these articles and in private conversation, urban environments are probabilistic systems. They are not causal systems. So it is not the case that, for example, Mayor Hodges could apply a specific policy and expect it to cause a specific outcome with 100 percent certainty. That’s now how these urban systems work. Rather, it would more than likely be the case that Mayor Hodges would input a particular policy and maybe an expected output would produce a particular outcome.
But that’s still not quite correct, because it asserts a particular input can be traced to a particular output and that type of observational sophistication is not quite possible at this date and time (a policy acts a lot more like a roll of a dice). To pull off something like that would take a much more sophisticated form of systems analysis and mathematics beyond this article.
All we know from this short analysis of the data is that the unemployment rate decrease by more than 30 percent during Mayor Betsy Hodges time in office, so far. But in order to achieve the 45 percent reduction by Mayor Belton during her first term, the unemployment rate would need to decrease to at least 2.5 percent. That’s an entire percentage point with a little more than 10 months remaining in the 2017.
The mainstream media tends to focus on the simple things when it comes to discrepancies between black and white folks. However, it is always much more complex than they report.
In this blog, I have reported crime rates in depressed neighborhoods and wards of urban environments. I have also reported high unemployment rates and low education attainment rates. And I have also reported on decaying housing conditions such as foreclosures and condemned and vacant buildings.
I have illustrated in many articles that these areas of depression tend to be areas that are predominantly black. Sometimes I have done this explicitly and in other times I have done it implicitly. But either way, I have always included and highlighted these issues as multi-variable problems. That is, I have demonstrated that it is not just one problem; I have demonstrated it is a multitude of problems.
But what I have not yet written about is the labor market for this demographic group. I have not yet highlighted or discussed the importance of an education and how that would provide opportunity; and I have not yet highlighted or discussed the importance of skills and acquiring skills and how that would provide opportunity.
Moreover, I have not yet highlighted or discussed the importance of industry and how picking an industry will lead to greater wages and job security and how that would provide opportunity; and I have not yet highlighted or discussed geography and how that would provide access to a greater number of jobs and opportunity.
In this article, I will provide a short explanation of 4 factors that affect entrance into the labor market for a worker along with data illustrating the current location of black Americans.
One could make an argument that this is the beginning of the road. Why is this? Because success in life is correlated with education, and ridiculously so. In almost every economic measure, a person who has a degree has a higher probability of making more money and a higher probability of job security, although there is variation between industries.
School readiness gaps are improving, except for black kids
Misbehavior in school can pay off for white, but not black students
Teacher-student racial mismatch harms black kids
White and Asian students are more likely to be exposed to advanced classes
Gaps remain in high school completion rates
Similar college enrollment rates mask unequal degree completion rates
Black and white students do not attend colleges of equal quality
As with all science, more research is needed in these subsequent areas. In addition, one ought to ask the question, where are the issues more likely to take place?
Is a researcher more likely to find these disparities in a stable economic system with low unemployment, high education and income attainments, and low crime rates? Or is a researcher more than likely to find these disparities in an unstable system with high unemployment, low education and income attainments, and high crime rates?
As a person goes through life, their skill set will increase. And as their skill set increases so will their pay, which means a person will attain greater earning and purchasing power as they get older. And this is the case for all racial groups. So what are some factors that may influence earning potential?
First, an initial job during teenage years will increase one’s earnings potential over the course of a life-time. This is because teenagers will begin to learn basic market skills and an intuition of how the market works. However, the unemployment rates among racial groups between the ages 16 and 24 are divergent.
If one is black and male, or hispanic and male, then his unemployment rate is higher than the national average. Essentially, both groups are starting from the rear of the market earnings race. In contrast, if one is Asian and female, or white and female, then her unemployment rate is lower than the national average.
Here are the statistics:
Education will also affect skills. The market is built on science and math, and how science and math perpetuate market engines.
We published an article last summer titled Top 10 Paying Bachelor’s Degrees. In it, we shared with our readers which degrees were the top 10 earners straight out of college. All 10 were engineering degrees:
Early Career Pay
Electrical & Computer Engineering
This of course doesn’t mean other degrees don’t pay well straight out of college or don’t have high potential earnings over the course of a life-time. However, what it does show is degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics will pay dividends for those who obtain those degrees. In addition, degrees in economics and finance are competitive degrees in the marketplace. For example, those in finance usually have the highest weekly average wages of all industries in the Minneapolis/St. Paul market.
Industry can dramatically decide the potential earnings for a worker in the marketplace. As previously stated, those who work in the mathematical sciences, engineering, and finance industries are earning more out of the gate and over a life-time.
And so the question is, how do black Americans compare by industry? With a little help from BlackDemographics.com, the reader can see that black Americans
are again overrepresented in government jobs such as education, social assistance, and public administration. African-Americans also have a large presence in the health care industry which is expected to see substantial job growth for the foreseeable future.
Here’s the data provided by BlackDemographics.com:
This last category can also dramatically affect someone’s entrance in the marketplace. This is because American neighborhoods are still relatively segregated by racial group. For example, Milwaukee’s segregation was highlighted after the police shooting death of Sylville Smith in August of 2016. According to Business Insider, Milwaukee is the most segregated city in the United States. As this map illustrates, black Americans are highly concentrated in two distinct areas:
The green dots are black Americans while the blue dots are white Americans. Of course a thorough geographical analysis of each American city would send this point home. But immediately, research by this publication has demonstrated correlation between black Americans and depressed environments which include adverse socio-economic factors such as high unemployment, relatively low earnings compared to other racial groups, low education rates, high crime rates, and disparate housing issues in the form of foreclosures and condemned and vacant buildings.
One last thought to consider, black businesses are more than likely to hire black employees while white businesses are more than likely to hire white employees despite federal laws. And this hiring behavior seems to make sense based off of geographical data.
I’m pretty sure both my liberal and conservative readers have a natural intuition for the disparities between black Americans and white Americans who live in cities.
And for good or for bad, your intuition has probably been influenced by culture, the mainstream media, social media, and Hollywood. You are aware that black Americans reside in these economically depressed systems. And as you know, some people acknowledge these economic differences by using vernacular code by saying “Hey! That part of town is a bad part of town,” which is accompanied by some acute knowledge of what group resides there.
If your response is to think this economically depressed system is mostly inhabited by black Americans, then you’re probably right. This isn’t to say you’re some sort of racist – this is the reality we face. In fact, this acknowledgment probably has more to do with your recognition of reality (you’re better off recognizing socio-economic disparities than ignoring them). And if you’re like most people I talk to, you’re frustrated by the reality of this situation.
Tho whole situation probably feels obdurate to you. What do you do about it? That’s a good question to ask yourself. Keep it close to you and don’t let it go. It’s good motivation, and it means you care.
Donate to The Systems Scientist
What I’m going to do over the next few blogs is provide you with some motivation in the form of data, and lots of it. By the time we’re finished, and probably before then, you will be asking lots of questions. What will those questions be? I will leave that to you for your own personal exploration of this topic, although I’ll throw some questions in from time to time just to keep the thinking process going.
Our first city for this series “Skewing Black” will be Minneapolis, Minnesota. I’m from Minneapolis so this town is near and dear to my heart. And no! I don’t have a “Minneso-tah” accent; at least, not while I’m talking to my friends from Southern California. But I digress.
So without further delay, here is the Median Household Income data for Minneapolis:
Here is the Median Household Income data for white residents of Minneapolis:
And finally, here is the Median household Income data for black residents of Minneapolis:
As you can see, the graph is skewing right for black households in Minneapolis. In fancy pants mathematical terms, we say the graph has a right-skewed distribution. Either way, it’s pretty terrible.
And as the data illustrates, Most black residents in Minneapolis are low-income earners compared to white residents, and the income earners of the rest of the city in general.
For instance, an average Minneapolis household has about a 30 percent chance of making below $30 thousand per year according to Table 1. In contrast, an average white household has about a 20 percent chance of making below $30 thousand per year according to Table 2 and an average black household has about a 66.5 percent chance of making below $30 per year according to Table 3.
To put these differences into perspective, an average black household will take home 30 percent less than the average Minneapolis household and 40 percent less than the average white household. This is a rather large difference no matter how it’s viewed.
You can also see this difference in median household income between an average Minneapolis household, an average white household, and an average black household becomes much more pronounced as household income increases.
The difference between households at the upper quartile (I broke the data into quarters to provide a different perspective of the data) is astonoshing. An average Minneapolis household is nearly 5 times higher than an average black household; and an average white household is nearly 6 times higher than an average black household.
And one final thought, this single variable of median household income doesn’t address the differences in other adverse socio-economic factors, nor does it address the differences of the median household income differences at different levels of the system
Anyway, I hope the skewing distribution of black median household income has rattled your chain. I hope the title was provocative enough to help you remember that many of the socio-economic data sets we will be encountering in this blog will be right-skewed distributions, or skewing black.
Remember, Minneapolis is just the beginning of our trip around the United States. And as you’ll see, it’s pretty much going to be like this city after city. Here comes some motivation for you!
After a first pass through the Minneapolis crime data, it appears reported crimes in Minneapolis increased in 2016. However, they didn’t increase by much. In total numbers, reported crimes increased from 21,341 in 2015 to 21,485 in 2016. That’s 144 reported crimes.
As a percent, that’s less than 1 percent. But of course, this crime data only tells us about the total number of crimes for the city of Minneapolis. It doesn’t tell us anything about where the majority of these crimes happened nor does it tell us anything about the types of crimes that are most prominent in these locations. And of course, it really does depend on location.
For example, North Minneapolis has some of the highest crime rates per square mile in the city. But not all neighborhoods and zip codes are created equal when it comes to crime. There are certain neighborhoods that experience much higher crime rates than others.
Donate to The Systems Scientist
The Jordan neighborhood, which resides in the central part of North Minneapolis in the 5th Ward, experienced the highest number of crimes and the highest number of crimes per square mile on the north side in 2015 and 2016. But the number of crimes and the crimes per square mile in the Jordan neighborhood decreased in 2016. In other words, they were higher in 2015.
The Jordan neighborhood is the only neighborhood in Minneapolis that is predominantly black.
In contrast, the crimes per square mile on average are much lower in the Harrison and Sumner Glenwood neighborhoods in the 5th Ward on the north side. And of course, the 4th Ward, which also resides on the north side, has its neighborhoods that are relatively quiet when it comes to crime and others that are active with higher numbers of crimes.
Harrison and Sumner Glenwood are predominantly white.
As my regular readers know, crime is usually associated with other adverse socio-economic factors such as higher rates of unemployment, lower rates of education, and housing issues. Sometimes this is referred to as urban decay or urban blight. But in the case of my research, I am using mathematical methods to lead me to this knowledge of urban environments and their respective discrepancies. But there are instances where I have found crime does exist on its own.
For Minneapolis, this happens in downtown Minneapolis, specifically in the Downtown West neighborhood, which experiences the highest number of crimes in the city month after month.
Why is this so? Well this is a question I will leave for you to ponder. Other questions you might think about as well are, why do these adverse socio-economic factors exist together with very few exceptions? Are policy makers aware of these facts? And if they are, why haven’t they done anything about it?
As we all know, the life of a young black man in Chicago is only worth the revenues the mainstream media outlets can squeeze out of him after he becomes another statistic to drive views, visitors, ads, and subscriptions. If we believe his well-being and the well-being of those around him is paramount to these mainstream organizations in corporate media, then we surely are blind to the realities of what the mainstream media has become.
Perhaps in Ted Turner’s day, mainstream outlets such as CNN would have reported such realities of violence in the context of the environment and the conditions of that environment. In other words, homicides just don’t happen alone. There are conditions and incentives that must be met. But today, different methods of how to obtain and address these issues must be explored.
Donate to The Systems Scientist
For example, crime was down overall in Chicago for the month of January 2017 compared to January 2016. As the data illustrates, there were 55 homicides in January 2017; whereas, there were 57 homicides in January 2016.
That’s a reduction of a little more than 3 and half percent. Obviously, this is good news. And so far, homicides look like they may be down for February as well. As of right now, there have been only 3 homicides for the month of February; there were 46 in February 2016.
If the rate of homicides remains at less than 1 per day, then that would be quite a reduction from 2016. But considering the adverse socio-economic factors affecting the area where the highest concentrations of these homicides are happening, it is unlikely this decreasing trend will continue. Why might this be?
In 2016, the West Side of Chicago was hit the hardest with homicides. Of the top 5 neighborhoods to experience the highest concentrations of homicides, 4 of the 5 were located on Chicago’s West Side. Here’s a little data to put this into perspective (note: Englewood is the neighborhood not on the West Side):
Of the 297 homicides from these 5 neighborhoods, 212, or a little more than 71 percent, occurred on the West Side. That’s quite a concentration.
To put this into perspective, I will see a concentration in a neighborhood in a particular city I study. In Chicago, I see a concentration in neighborhoods, plural. But like I said before, homicides do not live alone – there are conditions that reside together, and the mainstream media misses this point.
Note: these are 2014 numbers and so these comparisons are approximate.
In the case of the West Side of Chicago, 39.4 percent of its residents live below the poverty line, which is about 20 percent higher than the city average. And this doesn’t include extreme poverty rates, which would increase the West Side average to more than 50 percent.
In addition, the median income for the West Side is $26,292. In contrast, the median income for the City of Chicago is $46,195. Clearly, there is quite a difference in purchasing power between the residents of the West Side and the residents of Chicago in general. And this leads to some important questions.
What does the marketplace look like on the West Side? For the businesses that are there, they are constrained by how much consumers will spend and they are constrained by how many people they can employ because of revenue deficiencies and skills of the potential workers in the local labor market.
What would be some possible solutions to addressing such market discrepancies? As Mike Rowe has stated several times, there is nothing wrong with a vocational education. In fact, there are some vocational jobs that will pay more than jobs that require a four-year degree. In addition, a vocational education will take less time to push more skilled workers back into the marketplace where they are needed; and in this case, that place is the West Side of Chicago.
These are just two questions. There are many questions and possible solutions because these problems are complex problems. In addition, Cities are complex systems with complex problems and just reporting on homicides does nothing to put these complex problems into context or perspective, nor does it lead to possible solutions.
Thus, homicides may be down in Chicago, but adverse conditions still persist.
It’s still early, but it appears as though homicides in 2017 in Chicago are ahead of 2016 data. Last year at this time in January of 2016, there were 44 homicides. However, homicides are ahead by two at 46 in 2017. That’s a 4.5 percent increase from 2016. If this rate keeps up, it is projected that Chicago will see 60 homicides for the month of January.
As the graph illustrates, blue is the number of crimes as of January 25th of its respective year while red is the number of homicides January ended with. This obviously is not a good start to the year considering homicides in Chicago increased by more than 56 percent in 2016.
In addition, the majority of these 46 homicides so far reside in the Austin and Garfield Park neighborhoods at 9 and 8 homicides, respectively. Of the 798 homicides last year, Austin experienced 92 homicides while Garfield Park experienced 58 homicides.
For the Austin neighborhood, that was 11.5 percent of the total number of homicides in 2016; and for the Garfield Park neighborhood, that was about 7.3 percent of the total number of homicides in 2016. Together, that was nearly 19 percent, or nearly 1/5, of the total number of homicides that occurred in Chicago in 2016.
Donate to The Systems Scientist
Finally, if this 4.5 percent increase in homicides keeps pace for the remainder of the year, it is projected there will be more than 830 homicides, or nearly 40 more homicides. However, this projection does not include the summer months of June, July, and August, which historically see much higher numbers of crimes across the board: violent and non-violent crimes.
Remember, these homicides are happening in areas that are economically depressed. So homicides are just the tip of the iceberg.