Chicago’s Diversified Economy Does Better in Good Times and Bad – City Investments in Neighborhoods Stimulate Economy


CHICAGO, September 24, 2002 – Paul O’Connor, executive director of World Business Chicago, today reported that its analysis of the national economy over the last 12 years has shown that Chicago is doing better than other major cities in the current national economic slowdown, and he predicted Chicago is again poised to lead the nation’s big cities in recovery.

“While no one wants there to be anyone unemployed, the facts show that Chicago’s highly diversified economy stood up well during the national slowdown, and the local economy has already added back more than half of the jobs it lost since employment peaked in June 2001,” O’Connor said.

He reported that 95,000 new jobs had been created in the local economy since last February. He also showed that Chicago had lost fewer jobs than other major cities.

Employment in Chicago declined slightly more than 2% since June 2001, compared to Atlanta’s nearly 4% decline, New York’s more than 3.5%, San Francisco’s nearly 7.25%, and San Jose’s almost 10% job loss, according to World Business Chicago’s review of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures.

“That Chicago lost fewer jobs underscores the resilience and basic strength of our local economy. The relatively limited jobs loss also suggests that our local economy may again recover more quickly than other cities, just as we did coming out of the last national downturn in the early 1990s,” he said.

“By building a great place to work, live and play and by leading the nation in education reform, Chicago created more than 479,000 private-sector jobs in the ‘90s – more new jobs than New York, Los Angeles and Boston combined,” he said.

One aspect of the growth in Chicago’s economy over the past dozen years is its 82% growth in business services employment, which added 255,000 new jobs in software development and applications, engineering, marketing, consulting, management services, thereby surpassing the New York PMSA as the leading city for business services (SIC Codes 73 and 87). Chicago simultaneously emerged as America’s largest technology workforce, according to the University of Minnesota.

O’Connor said that the future of Chicago’s economy rests on workforce, quality of life and infrastructure. He said the City of Chicago’s infrastructure investments of $6-billion over the past 13 years in neighborhood quality of life, school reconstruction, library construction, parks improvements and transportation “will pay dividends in jobs and economic growth for years to come.”

He said Chicago’s improved business environment was increasingly being recognized by the national news media. He quoted Site Selection magazine’s claim that “the Windy City has blown away its challengers for No. 1 U.S. metro for new and expanded facility announcements in 2001.” Chicago’s 884 economic development projects ran 200 more than runner up Detroit, 500 more than New York and Los Angeles, and 700 more than Atlanta.

The economic record speaks for itself, he said, citing the world headquarters of The Boeing Company, Ford Supplier Park, ATA Training Center, Solo Cup, Midway Airport redevelopment, McCormick Place expansion, Soldier Field, Wrigley Company, StyleMaster, Wacker Drive, and strong entrepreneurial small business growth in the neighborhoods.

O’Connor pointed to Chicago’s having dominated for the past two years Inc. magazine’s annual listing of the “Inner City 100,” this year winning eight of the 100 fastest-growing small and medium-sized private business awards and winning 10 in 2001. Some 192 private companies operating in Chicago’s economically disadvantaged neighborhoods are being nominated for Inc. magazine’s 2003 competition because of their multi-year growth and a contest-required minimal 2001 sales increase of at least $1 million.

“Chicago is showing a track record of solid success in the most difficult challenge facing America’s cities – engendering job-creating entrepreneurial activity within economically disadvantaged neighborhoods,” O’Connor said.

“In short, the Chicago economy continues to do better than most of the rest of the country, in good times and bad. And we at World Business Chicago believe that everything is in place for Chicago to again recover years ahead of other big cities, when steady growth returns to the national and global economy,” he said.

In the early 1990s, the local economy accelerated out of the previous recession literally years ahead of New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

About World Business Chicago

World Business Chicago (WBC) is a not-for-profit economic development organization chaired by Mayor Richard M. Daley and directed by Paul O’Connor. WBC leads in marketing Chicago’s competitive advantages, coordinates business retention and attraction efforts, and seeks to enhance Chicago’s business climate by being a thought leader in economic development policy. For more information, visitwww.worldbusinesschicago.com or call (312) 553-0500.

Media Contact:

Meghan Risch

(312) 553-4658

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