The 2008 Report on Illinois Poverty reports that the Midwest experienced a sizeable jump in poverty (10.2 to 12.4 percent) from 1999 to 2006, earning the distinction of having the largest increase of any region in the United States. Within Illinois
specifically, 12.3 percent of the population lives in poverty according to 2006 report data. The reasons for poverty are as varied as those who experience it, however, one factor that consistently influences earning potential is educational attainment
The Illinois Department of Employment Security reports that high school dropouts make up 50 percent of public assistance recipients, and those without a high school education or equivalency are twice as likely to struggle to find employment, and earn
almost $9,000 less annually than their peers with high school diplomas or a GED. At a time when the cost of living continues to increase, it is critical that individuals are educated and trained, to take advantage of employment opportunities.
The United States Department of Labor, in its news release reporting for March 2008, states that the national unemployment rate grew by 0.3 percent, from 4.8 to 5.1 in the month of March. This jump in the unemployment rate does not bode well for the
under-educated or the unskilled, as they will be competing against an educated and skilled cohort for a limited number of jobs.
YouthBuild Illinois programs, funded by IDHS, are directly addressing this need for Illinois youth 16 to 24 years of age through services delivered by four community-based organizations highlighted in the following section.