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While some Illinois companies are laying off employees, 2000 cab drivers are being hired in Chicago

by Eunji Kim
Feb 12, 2013

Nearly one out of 10 Chicagoans are unemployed and layoffs continue.

Yet taxi companies here are recruiting 2,000 drivers to fill vacancies.

Last month, Illinois companies warned they plan to lay off as many as 1,200 employees in the next two months, according to the Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Supervisory jobs are suffering the most, said Mike Mataraza, a freelance career coach.

Jeremy Mayfield, 32, an IT systems engineer at CME Group in Chicago, said that during the past six months, 50 managers at CME Group have been cut. Mayfield said in his IT department, 10 managers have now dropped to six.

In order to save costs, companies are laying off supervisors so that one person can manage a team, instead of multiple supervisors, Mataraza said.

But this tactic doesn’t work for unskilled jobs — such as cab drivers.

“One guy can’t drive two cabs,” Mataraza said.

Tarig Elnazir, 42, had been driving his cab for nine years. He said it was easy getting hired as a cab driver — there were many open positions.

“I’m holding onto this job for now,” Elnazir said.

Javaid Iqbal, 70, has been a cab driver for 20 years.

“I never liked to be a cab driver,” Iqbal said. “I am an educated man.”

He has a master’s degree in physics and nuclear science from Pakistan, but he had to take care of his four children. So, he took a less-skilled job as a cab driver.

At that time, studying again in the United States to become a nuclear scientist was not an option, he said. “Now that’s my option and I’m too old.”