Solving for Chicago

Francisco Velazquez/Borderless Magazine

Solving for Chicago is a collaborative of 20 print, digital and broadcast newsrooms working cooperatively to cover pressing issues facing the public. The collaborative’s current focus is coverage of the workers deemed “essential” during COVID-19 and how the pandemic is reshaping their work and professions. You can find all Essentials stories at Chicagoessentialworkers.org.

This project is funded by the Google News Initiative and the Solutions Journalism Network, and is managed by the Local Media Foundation.


THE ESSENTIALS

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and people were ordered to stay home, nearly a third of the workforce in Chicago found themselves labeled “essential” and continued to come in to work. Considered vital to keep the economy going amidst the crisis, healthcare workers were an obvious category, but others like food service, transportation and construction trades were also identified by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker as essential. Many of these workers have to be around other people to do their jobs, which considerably increases the risk of contracting the virus and bringing it home to their families and communities.

The situation these workers face raises new questions about our workforce and what is essential for a functioning economy compared to what is essential for a functioning community. It reveals the stark divisions by race that still exist within our labor force. Worsening unemployment shows that an essential job is not necessarily a secure job. Participating newsrooms are investigating these and other questions about how the pandemic is reshaping work and employment.



OUR FUNDERS