Taxonomy

Web Content Display

Questions or comments? Contact Simone Weil.

Web Content Display

Workforce

A skilled workforce is a critical component of regional economic growth.  Many jobs that once required only a high school degree now require additional training or a postsecondary education.  Ensuring that Chicago's workforce has access to these opportunities will prepare the region to compete in the global economy.   

Web Content Display

Educational Attainment

What
The proportion of residents in the Chicago region and peer metropolitan areas who are age 25 and older holding high school, associate, bachelor, and advanced degrees.

Why it matters
Higher levels of educational attainment indicate a skilled workforce and contribute to regional economic prosperity.  A growing number of jobs nationwide and in the region require a postsecondary education.  The proportion of the Chicago region's residents holding postsecondary degrees lags behind Boston and Washington, D.C., and exceeds the rate in Los Angeles.  

More in Educational Attainment

Higher levels of educational attainment create benefits for both individuals and regional economies.  Higher levels of educational attainment are generally associated with increased median earnings and a decreased likelihood of unemployment.  On a regional scale, higher levels of educational attainment translate to lower unemployment rates and greater economic output. 

Developing and maintaining an educated workforce is a critical component of business growth and retention.  A 2012 IBM survey of CEOs, for example, found that, when asked about their business' key source of economic value, human capital was the most frequently identified asset -- more so than customer relationships, technology, innovation, or research and development.  In a globalized economy largely shaped by innovations in transportation and communication technology, regions that develop and maintain a skilled workforce have a competitive advantage.  

Increasing demand for postsecondary degrees

As the U.S. economy transitions from manufacturing toward service sector occupations, demand for workers with a postsecondary education has increased.  Although manufacturing output is near an all-time high, the share of employees working in manufacturing occupations has steadily declined relative to employment in service sector jobs, such as health care, finance, business services, and education.  For instance, during the 1940s approximately 60 percent of the nation's employment was in the service sector.  That proportion has risen to over 80 percent in recent years.

Postsecondary degree attainment rates in the Chicago region and most other large metropolitan areas exceed national averages.  However, the region finds itself near the middle among peer metropolitan areas at each level of degree attainment.  Associate and bachelor degree attainment rates among Chicago and its peer regions are relatively similar, though advanced degree attainment rates exhibit greater variability.  
 
An estimated 14.6 percent of the region's population age 25 and older holds an advanced degree, placing it behind New York (15.8), Boston (20.8), and Washington, D.C. (24.0).  Advanced degree holders play an important role in regional economies because they have the highest potential to be job creators, either directly by starting a new company or indirectly by increasing demand for goods and services in the local economy.
 

Job growth varies by educational attainment

Since 2001, jobs requiring an associate degree or higher in the Chicago region have grown more quickly than jobs requiring less than an associate degree.  The following chart illustrates this trend and highlights the significant impact that the most recent recession had on jobs with lower postsecondary education requirements.  Between 2007-10, regional employment in occupations requiring less than an associate degree declined more rapidly than other educational cohorts.  Although the labor market has experienced recovery in recent years, jobs requiring less than an associate degree have yet to return to their 2001 level.
 
Jobs requiring an associate degree fared slightly better than those requiring a bachelor degree during the recession.  This is due in part to the large number of health care jobs in the associate degree group.  CMAP analysis found that over 60 percent of associate degree occupations in the region are in health care.  While consumers and businesses generally cut back spending during recessions, people tend to continue seeking medical care, which makes medical occupations less susceptible to recessions.  Among advanced degree holders, the recession slowed employment growth, but did not reverse it as it did for other educational cohorts.  The most robust employment growth in the region has come from jobs requiring an advanced degree, which grew by 18 percent between 2001-15.

About the data

Metropolitan educational attainment is tracked by estimating the proportion of a region's population age 25 and older holding a high school, associate, bachelor, or advanced degree.  A key missing component of this data is information on certifications utilized in manufacturing, STEM occupations, and other growing areas of the economy.  While most individuals traditionally pursue an associate or bachelor degree, educational institutions increasingly offer postsecondary certifications in specific fields.  While these certifications do not equate to an accredited degree, they can be a significant asset for jobseekers.  The lack of credentialing data availability highlights the limitation of tracking educational attainment using traditional degree measurements.  
 
Download the dataset.
 

Web Content Display

Workforce Participation

What
The proportion of working-age residents (20 to 64 years old) who are currently employed or looking for work.
 
Why it matters
In 2015, approximately 81 percent of the region's working-age residents were either employed or actively seeking work.  A higher level of workforce participation is generally seen as a positive indicator of regional economic opportunity.
 

More in Workforce Participation

National and regional trends in workforce participation

Workforce participation is a helpful measure for contextualizing unemployment rates.  High levels of participation often indicate that people in the labor market are optimistic about finding work.  Rates tend to increase during periods of economic growth as more individuals choose to work.  Conversely, participation rates can decline during economic downturns as jobseekers become discouraged by poor employment prospects and choose to stop looking for work. 
 
Chicago region workforce participation was at its highest level at 81.1 percent in 2015, eclipsing its previous peak of 80.9 percent in 2008.  Metropolitan Chicago's workforce participation rate exceeds that of Los Angeles and New York and is slightly lower than rates in Washington, D.C. and Boston.  Since the start of the recession, national workforce participation has declined and now stands at 76.8 percent.  Chicago region participation also declined during the recession, although the rate rebounded slightly between 2011-12.  The region's participation rate increased by 1.8 percent during the period 2014-15 – the largest annual increase since the recession. 
 

About the data

Workforce participation statistics come with many caveats.  Decreasing participation is generally attributed to an increasing number of discouraged workers.  When workers cannot find jobs and suspend their search, they are no longer included in the workforce.  This results in a decline in participation rates.  Lower workforce participation rates can also be attributed to positive factors, however, such as an increasing number of people choosing to forego work to pursue postsecondary education, early retirement, family care, or having sufficient economic stability at home.  In general, higher rates of workforce participation are beneficial for the regional economy and indicate a larger labor force.

Download the dataset.

Web Content Display

Total Jobs

What
The estimated number of full- and part-time jobs in the seven-county CMAP region and peer metropolitan areas.
 
Why it matters
Growing job counts indicate that businesses are hiring and that the region's economy is growing.  Although the Chicago region has experienced several consecutive years of job growth since the 2007-09 recession, job growth rates since 2001 lag behind those of peer metropolitan areas.
 

More in Total Jobs

Regional employment trends

Total job counts in metropolitan areas tend to follow national economic trends.  During the recession in the early 2000s, employment in the Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Boston regions declined slightly before experiencing moderate growth until 2007.  The 2007-09 recession reversed much of this growth for Chicago and its peers. 
 
Effects of the 2007-09 recession were especially severe in Chicago and Los Angeles.  During that period, the Chicago region lost 7.2 percent of its jobs and the Los Angeles metropolitan area lost 8.1 percent of its jobs.  Since 2010, job counts in Chicago and peer regions have grown.  In 2014, the total number of jobs in metropolitan Chicago returned to 2001 levels, while peer regions have registered higher job counts compared to 2001 totals. 
 

While the number of jobs in the region is increasing, the available data do not indicate the quality or average pay of jobs created.  Total job counts increase from newly created part-time or low-wage jobs, and from the creation of good-paying or full-time jobs.  Thus, measuring total jobs provides a high-level perspective on the health of employment in the region.

About the data

Total jobs data are reported by Economic Modeling Specialists International and are primarily based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, and EMSI proprietary sources.  The data report the sum of full- and part-time positions.  Total jobs data is reported as of August 2016.  Data for metropolitan Chicago includes only the seven counties of northeastern Illinois; all other regions reflect U.S. Census Bureau metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). 

Download the dataset.

Web Content Display

Loading more updates...