Unemployment in Illinois by County

By Tony Mazzarri and Cassandra Roman


Air Force File Photo

Dominic Flisk of south suburban Oak Lawn lost his job at a local mechanic’s shop in August of 2018. And although unemployment rates are low nationally and in Illinois, Flisk and others in his situation find themselves fighting an uphill battle to find a job. “So far it has been a struggle,” said Flisk, 25. “Certain places will not hire based on simple qualifications. Applying to a plethora of businesses at once seems to work well and get the best results and also affords you options.”

Unemployment is a tough thing to go through, and something that we’ve seen ebb and flow throughout the years in this country. Despite the fact that U.S. unemployment rates have decreased for several years, the numbers still paint a grim picture of Americans who have either lost their jobs or can’t find work. There are 102 counties in the state of Illinois, each with its own individual unemployment rates showing exactly how many are unemployed across the state.

Map by Tony Mazzarri data by the State of Illinois Data Portal

Continue reading “Unemployment in Illinois by County”

The Growth of Cancun, Mexico

Over the years tourism in Mexico has taken off, especially in Cancun. With the increasing amount of tourist, Cancun has had to expand in order to accommodate for all the people. Using the Google Earth Engine Timelapse a timelapse of Cancun from 1984 to 2016 can be seen. It is interesting to see how in the early 90’s there is this growth and expansion happening that does not stop.

The timelapse shows how just in a matter of years the whole area of Cancun quickly expanded. The area grows beyond the beach, and shows a lot of growth moving inland. Hotels and resorts are spreading past the beach, and the more attraction Cancun gets the more it has to accommodate for all the tourists. It can also be seen how Cancun is really spreading out, and expanding beyond just a beach resort area.

Indiana Craft Breweries

There are 137 craft breweries that can be found in Indiana and is ranked 16th in the United States according to the Brewers Association. Using information from the Brewers Association the graphic below highlights some aspects of craft breweries in Indiana. Some interesting points to note are that there are 2.8 breweries per capita ranking 21st. Also there are 240,063 barrels of craft beer produced per year.

Indiana Beer


FIFA World Cup: Number of Goals Scored

The first FIFA World Cup was held in the summer of 1930 in Uruguay, and since then 20 World Cups have taken place across multiple countries. The tournament is one of the most anticipated events because it is a global event that happens once every four years. The graph below shows the number of goals scored throughout each tournament, starting in 1930 in Uruguay to this summer in Russia.

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There has been a steady increase in the amount of goals scored over the course of the last eight World Cup tournaments. This has a lot to do with the fact that teams select the best players from their country to represent them at the most elite level of play. The Business Insider published an article detailing the best players to look out for from each country for this past World Cup, and the list is full of young talent. It is also worth noting that there is a 12 year gap between the 1938 World Cup and the 1950 World Cup where no goals are recorded. This is because the 1942 and the 1946 World Cup were canceled due to World War II.

As the FIFA World Cup looks to expand to allowing more teams in the tournament it will be exciting to see the new talent that steps foot onto the field. It will also be exciting to see how this change in the number of teams playing in the tournament impacts the amount of goals scored throughout the World Cup.

View full graphic here

Unemployment Net Change

This chart shows data regarding the unemployment net change over the course of 10 years, starting from 2005-15. The data was collected for every month, and then the average was taken for that year. This average for the year is what is represented on the chart. The employment number is on the vertical axis while the years are on the horizontal axis. From 2007-09 there is a visible decline in the unemployment rate due to the recession that the country was facing at the time. In 2010 there is a great surge in employment, and the number has slowly continued to grow going forward.

Unemployment Net Change


Chicago Pride Parade Attendance

Chicago is a city that is proud to be inclusive, and host events such as the Pride Parade to encourage acceptance and inclusivity. While it hasn’t always been so welcoming, there has been a lot of movement forward in embracing every aspect of Chicago that makes it such a melting pot. The first Pride Parade took place in the summer of 1970, and has continued to happen every year since. The continuing support from Chicago communities has allowed the parade to grow and become more successful every year.

Using information from the Chicago Pride Parade I have compiled this chart of the attendance from 1985 until 2014. The attendance has drastically increased over the course of 30 years. The early set of data shows the attendance every five years, and starting in 2010 the data is showed for every year until 2014. This chart is an example of how Chicago has become more open and accepting of all walks off life.

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Chicago’s Oldest Buildings

Chicago is a city full of history, and when you think Chicago one of the things that stands out is the architecture of the city. Following the Chicago Fire of 1871 the city had to rebuild which meant an open canvas for architects to come and create something new. There are plenty of buildings in the city that look beautiful, and are more famously known. However, there are also buildings that are just as old if not older than Chicago. While they may not be as impressive architecturally as the Willis Tower or the Marina Towers these buildings and houses are a part of Chicago’s history.

Through the City of Chicago Landmarks cite I was able to compile a list of the ten oldest buildings, houses, and structures in the city. There are buildings that range from the pre-Chicago Fire era to post Chicago Fire era, and they are all official landmarks. These buildings are all across the city, going from the north side to the south side there is no shortage of places to visit. While it may not be possible to visit all ten in one day the map breaks down the sites into three groups; the north side locations, the west and loop locations, and the south side locations. Within each group there are directions on how to go from one site to the other. It might take more than one weekend, but its definitely worth taking a look at Chicago’s other famous buildings.

CTA Blue Line: Overcrowding and Rider Attitudes

By Cassandra Roman and Maclaine Purdy

Over the last 15 years, the CTA Blue Line has seen continuous increases in riders and has had little to no updates to accommodate both old and new passengers alike. This includes remodeling train cars and stations, security additions, and adding more cars/running more cars during high traffic times. Over 80,000 passengers ride the Blue Line on an average work day, which services 33 stops.

Above Ground shot of California stop, Photo by Maclaine Purdy

Rider Growth on Northwest Side

The increase in riders at the stations is majority due to Chicago residents moving northwest of the Loop and into neighbors such as West Town, Wicker Park, Bucktown, East Village and Logan Square. Recent high-rise construction on streets such as Milwaukee and Division, have been points of focus for dispute. This dispute includes building zoning laws, the lack of parking for residents in the new buildings and elimination of parking for other residents on the block.

Dr. Joe Schwieterman, a DePaul professor in the School of Public Service Department of Public Policy, said, “We have something in the zoning ordinance called the ‘Trans Development Ordinance’ and that gives special bonuses and special allowances for people building near rapid transit stations.” He goes on to add after being asked whether new construction should halt,

“Counter argument being we shouldn’t stop potential beneficial development in our city just because there is a one hour ‘crunch’ on the rapid transit lines. Everyone has a different view on that, but the city needs development, and its keeping people in the city and they are paying lots of property tax… I’m not going to take a side one way or another.”

Inside shot of Blue Line Train Car, Photo by Maclaine Purdy


This migration trend to the northwest neighborhoods is one of the largest factors that contributes to overcrowding on the Blue Line. With the increase of people that are utilizing the line as their main form of transportation, there is no efforts from the CTA to accommodate these ‘extra’ riders.

Schwieterman said, “On my assumption on standing room has been that the CTA insists that every car they might be able to run over the loop, which has the real sharp curves, so we have real short cars compared to almost every other city in the world. They have to go around the loop with 90-degree curves so you don’t have much standing room.

“When it gets crowded it gets very uncomfortable.” Blue Line riders not only are frustrated with the lack of room on the train, but the lack of cars during rush hour.

Emily Koebnick, 32, a member of the Ukrainian Village Neighborhood page and Blue Line rider for over 4 years shared her personal experience during high traffic usage. I find the morning commute at times unbearable. Often we let trains pass because they are so full people fall out the doors when they open. I do think that it has gotten more crowded over the last four years.”

Rideshare Apps

Overcrowding and delays during rush hour are not the only challenges CTA faces today. Competition with Rideshare apps such as Uber and Lyft have been a large factor in the decline in riders over the last few years.

Uber and Lyft not only service you from your exact location, but their shared ride function now competes financially with CTA fare ($2.50). Dani M, 28, of Ukrainian Village says, “I really only use that (Rideshare app) if I have to be somewhere and don’t have time to mess around with the Blue Line…or if I’m going somewhere public transportation can’t get me to without more than one transfer”.

Perception of Safety

In the last five years the safety on CTA trains has improved due to a major expansion and installation project of surveillance cameras that was worth $26 million. While improvements and plans are in the works it is not keeping up with the growing rate of commuters as well as the constant delays that trains experience on a daily basis.

The amount of riders at the northwest stops has increased drastically and the CTA seems unable to keep up with the growing numbers. Emily Koebnick, 32, a member of the Ukrainian Village neighborhood and Blue Line ride of four years states that “I feel safe for the most part. I have taken the El to the airport at odd times (mostly super early to the airport). I always like when it is busier and there are more people around so those early mornings I stay very aware while I’m waiting (phone away, ear buds out).” While the addition of more cameras has been helpful many still feel like the presence of employees on the platforms would go a long way

LaSalle underground platform, Photo by Cassandra Roman

Brief History of the Blue Line

In 1958 the Blue Line was created then known as the West-Northwest Route that stretched from Damen to Forest Park and 54th/Cermak. The Forest Park station was known as the Congress Line with elevated tracks that ran parallel to the highway was the first of its kind in the 1950’s, and would pave the way for many cities all over the United States. The north end of the Blue Line then known as the Milwaukee Line followed suit with elevated tracks running first to Jefferson Park in the 1970’s, and then to O’Hare in 1984 with tracks running parallel to the highway. The name change not take place until 1993 when the CTA adopted a new color naming system.

360 Photo: Addison Blue Line Stop

360 Photo: Clinton Blue Line Stop

Red Line vs. Blue Line

There is a distinct difference between the Blue and Red lines in regards to the stations as well as the train cars. Schwieterman, explained the differences between the two lines, and the ways in which the two are being handled by the CTA.

Schwieterman said that “the Red Line is our showpiece, it’s our most glamorous and high-profile line. There is this huge project for the red/purple modernization which is going to modernize the whole part north from Belmont up to Evanston.”

He further elaborated on the ways in which the Red Line continues to grow and expand while the “Blue line is somewhat the stepchild of the red line and doesn’t get the same amount of attention. And you still have a lot of wooden platforms up by California, and it’s getting pretty old up there as you probably saw.”

In the recent years, not much has been done with the upkeep of the Blue Line stations while the Red Line has received and continues to receive funds for improvements.

Blue Line Stats Graphic, Created Maclaine Purdy via Vengage

Looking into the Future

As of now, the Blue Line has no set plan(s) to change current operations. This includes running more cars during rush hour, lengthening station platforms in order to add more cars, and adding more security personnel down on the platforms.

Schwieterman had some concluding thoughts for the future agenda of the CTA- “I think the stations could use a face lift, especially outside of downtown. Logan Square and others they are pretty weathered. I still think we are lacking digital signage at most stations. I’m skeptical we are really going to get fast trains to O’Hare in the next decade. I am just wondering if the CTA had a car on every train that maybe was an extra $2 that had luggage racks and hangers for your bag, and just some sense that your in a car that’s designed for airport travel”. With the recent 95th station renovation on the Red Line, totaling $280 million dollars, Blue Line riders will likely be waiting for changes for quite awhile.”

The CTA did not respond to multiple interview requests for this story.

Some of the Best Mexican Pastries in Chicago

In a city like Chicago it can be overwhelming trying to decide on a place to eat. Anyone with a sweet tooth will find it especially hard because there is an endless amount of dessert and pastry choices from around the world. Some of the popular bakeries in Chicago are Mexican bakeries because they offer such a variety of sweets that are bound to satisfy any sweet tooth.

There is a variety of traditional Mexican pastries and sweets to try at these bakeries such as conchas, and orejas. These are just some of the popular pastries that can be found at any Mexican bakery, but there plenty of other goodies offered. All of these treats go great with coffee, milk, or traditional champurrado. Along with enjoying delicious pastries there is also the opportunity to emerge yourself into a new culture. Here is a list I put together of the top 10 Mexican bakeries in different Chicago neighborhoods.

The Most Anticipated Sporting Events

Two of the most popular sporting events are getting ready to take place, the FIFA World Cup in June 2018, and Super Bowl 52 in February 2018. These events are highly anticipated in the sports world due to the competitiveness and the high level of athleticism displayed. While the FIFA World Cup may still be a few months out that has not limited the conversation surrounding the event, and in some cases has had more searches than the Super Bowl. With the Super Bowl taking place in just a week there has been an increase in the searches while the FIFA World Cup searches have dwindled.

The graph displays a comparison between the two events over the course of the last six months. During this time the FIFA World Cup had more searches in October due to the fact that there were qualifying matches taking place. In December the World Cup also saw a rise in searches because the event was drawing teams for its group stage. The Super Bowl saw an increase in searches as the start of the NFL season as well as at the end of the season. Aside from these peaks the two events remained pretty close in searches over the six months. When looked at on a global scale the Super Bowl has dominated the searches in North America as well as some parts of South America and much of Europe. While the FIFA World Cup has dominated the searches in Asia, Africa, and Australia, along with some areas of Europe.

College Sports

College sports, whether it be basketball or football, are exciting events with a large fanbase across the United States. Two of the most anticipated events in college sports are the Football Championship, and the men’s basketball tournament also known as March Madness. These events are a time for young athletes to shine, and show off their potential as athletes for future teams and coaches if they want to pursue a professional career. It also provides young athletes the opportunity to compete at a high level while still pursuing an education.

There seems to be a lot of debate about which of the two college events is the more popular one. Looked at over the course of a year, the trend appears to be in favor of the Football Championship. Aside from the main event, March Madness, basketball never seems to beat out college football in searches. The Football Championship has had more searches throughout the year compared to the basketball tournament. Football appears to be the more popular sport between the two, with coverage of the football season taking place throughout the year even when the athletes are not on the field. Therefore, with more conversations happening in regards to the football season it is more likely that people will search for it. It was also discovered that both events were searched for only in the United States due to the fact that they are events that pertain to colleges in the United States, and not outside of the country.