ON TO 2050 socioeconomic forecast

ON TO 2050 Socioeconomic forecast

As part of ON TO 2050 plan development, CMAP has created a socioeconomic forecast to estimate the characteristics of the seven-county Chicago metropolitan region's population and employment in 2050. The forecast estimates the 2050 age distribution, race/ethnicity, household size, and similar factors for the region's residents, as well projecting employment trends by sector. The forecast will help CMAP and the region's communities plan for changing needs.

Overall, the forecast projects that the region will continue to grow, despite slow growth and some declines after the recent recession. By 2050, the region will have more than 10.6 million residents compared with 8.5 million in 2015. Employment will be just below the 5 million mark, growing from 4.08 million in 2015.

Like the rest of the nation, the region will continue to age as people live longer and delay having children to later in life. By 2050, the oldest Millennials will just be joining the senior age bracket.

The region will also continue to diversify. Over the past decade, the region's Hispanic and Asian populations have been fueling our population growth. By 2050, the region will have an even stronger diversity of residents than today, and the majority of the region's residents will be persons of color. 

Employment is also expected to grow, with anticipated shifts in the types of jobs available. Some industries will remain strong, but need fewer workers. Others will continue to expand. By 2050, the region is forecasted to have fewer manufacturing and transportation jobs, and more jobs in service industries such as information, finance, real estate, professional/technical services, education, and health care. Read more about these changes in the Transformed Economy Alternative Future.

How this socioeconomic forecast was developed

The Federal Highway Administration requires metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), such as CMAP, to include a socioeconomic forecast in their long-range plans. Forecasting helps CMAP evaluate regionally significant projects, complete air-quality conformity modeling, understand future needs of communities in the region, and provide needed technical assistance. Transportation providers, such as the Regional Transportation Authority or Illinois Department of Transportation, regional civic organizations, consulting firms, and taxing bodies also use the forecast to plan for future capacity and make informed capital spending decisions. Finally, municipalities and other local jurisdictions use this data to plan for anticipated change in their communities.

CMAP revisits its population and employment forecasts every four years in conjunction with the long-range plan schedule. The last forecast was released in October 2014 in conjunction with the federally mandated update to GO TO 2040. The draft ON TO 2050 regional socioeconomic forecast considers birth, death, and migration trends with data from county health departments and the U.S. Census Bureau. Moody's Analytics, an economic research firm, forecasts employment by major categories each year, in each county, for the entire country. CMAP incorporates that data, as well as impacts of policy recommendations from GO TO 2040 and ON TO 2050, into a model that calculates future population and employment statistics for the region. The forecast will be approved at plan adoption, in October 2018.  As forecast data become available, they will be posted on the CMAP Data Hub.