Labor Data: Chicago Metro Leading the Way in Job Gains

July 23, 2019
Author: ThinkWhy Analyst

ThinkWhy It Matters

Chicago is a good news story. Despite the national concern over crime rates and its share of political turmoil, the job gain trend in this metro is healthy. This metro leads the pack in monthly job gains, and each sector of industry is reporting upswings. Due to the diversity of industry and the sheer size of the metro area, the long-term outlook remains bright.

Chicago Metro Job Growth Momentum

Leading the pack among the 10 ThinkWhy selected markets for June 2019 reporting is Chicago. This metro led in job gains month over month, producing 14,000 jobs, picking itself up from 6,900 jobs lost in May. The annual job growth for the metro stands slightly above their five-year average.

Mark Denzler, CEO for the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) said that “Illinois manufacturing generates $52 billion in wages and benefits,” highlighting that those dollars are coming back to help the industry and community grow.

Chicago’s unemployment rate remains low at 3.5 percent as of May 2019 reporting, but roughly 10 basis points higher than May 2018. The historical average unemployment rate in the metro area is over 7 percent, so the current rate is quite favorable at 3.5 percent. During optimal economic growth periods, the metro area has been known to produce 80,000 to 90,000 jobs annually, and the 10-year historical average job gain stands close to 60,000 jobs.


• With a low unemployment rate, the metro area wage growth is healthy at 4.2 percent.

Industry Performance

• Professional and Business Service industry leads the share of jobs in the metro area alongside Trade, Transportation and Utilities followed by Education and Healthcare.

• Among the white-collar jobs, Professional and Business Services and Education and Healthcare industries are still seeing solid job growth and the pace of growth for the month is higher than the recent five-year historical average.

• Among the blue-collar jobs, Leisure and Hospitality, Manufacturing and Other Services industries are also contributing to job growth in the area.

Jobs-to-Permits Ratio

After the Great Recession, the Chicago developers and investors have remained disciplined. The single and multi-family ratios both stand close to 7.9 in June 2019. These ratios suggest demand is outpacing supply and the current pace of residential permits remain within historical bounds. Despite demand outpacing supply in the metro area, home price growth remains anemic at 1.4 percent growth in Q12019 according to the National Association of Realtors.

Learn more about metropolitan area unemployment figures, with insight into local market employment statistics, including job growth and hot and cold employment sectors with ThinkWhy's Major Market Activity Reports.