According to the Great Cities Institute report on youth unemployment, 47 percent of black men between the ages of 20 – 24 were out of work and out of school. There are many obvious ways that unemployment can have an affect on public health, most notably, through lack of insurance. However, there are some subtle ways in which unemployment can affect health. In “Is Unemployment a Public Health Issue,” Dr. Choucair states “ that people who lost a job through layoffs were twice as likely as the employed to develop health problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease.” In addition, those who are unemployed are far more likely to experience mental health issues. What options do we have to solve a public health crises created by a large unemployed population?
Some say – Urban Agriculture. There is a lot of research that supports urban agriculture as a urban agriculture can also be used as a tool for sustainable economic development with respect to youth unemployment. For example, an urban agriculture organization called The Greening of Detroit has contributed almost 450,000 hours to youth employment since 1998. In addition, they offer programs that teach youth about financial responsibility and assist with college readiness – all while allowing unemployed youth an opportunity to earn money and utilizing vacant land. Economic development can be taken further by selling yield at farmers markets or even to local grocery stores for profit. For many Chicago communities unemployment and vacant land are flip sides of the same coin; as such Chicago is in a unique space to benefit from a urban agriculture system that helps to reduce unemployment and ultimately improves public health.
“Urban Agriculture” – Brown & Jameton
“Is Unemployment a Public Health Issue” – Bechara Choucair, M.D.
“Lost: The Crisis Of Jobless and Out Of School Teens and Young Adults In Chicago, Illinois and the U.S.” – Cordova, Wilson, Morsey