Business and Professional Services

Chicago is the center of business services in North America

Sector Strengths

  • Chicago MSA has the 3rd largest business and professional services industry, broadly defined, by employees – at 1,153,960 employees.[1]
  • Chicago’s Business Services industry generates $275.9 billion in GDP annually.[2]
  • Chicago has the 3rd largest labor force in the US, but is the 19th most expensive place to operate a 500-person, tech-focused office. [3]
  • Chicago has 36 Fortune 500 Headquarters, the 2nd highest number in the US[4], and 31 S&P 500 headquarters.[5]
  • Chicago is the #1 top U.S. city for corporate relocations and expansions[6] and FDI[7] for the past seven years.
  • Chicago has the 2nd largest Finance & Insurance sector in the US by employment (245,580) and GDP ($70.2B). Chicago has the 3rd largest Advertising and PR sector in the US by employment (30,968) and GDP ($5.1B). Chicago has the 4th largest Legal Services sector in the US by employment (47,454) and GDP ($14.7B). [8]
  • Chicago has the 2nd highest concentration of CEO’s (8,440), 2nd largest concentration of General and Operations Managers (101,960), 3rd largest concentration of Accountants (43,820) 4th largest concentration of Lawyers (27,790). [9]


  • Chicago has the #1 most-connected airport in the country,[10] with a combined 134 daily nonstop flights to NYC, SF, and DC and 139 daily departures to 80 international destinations.[11]

Talent Pipeline

  • Chicago’s schools produce the #1 largest pool of MBA grads, 2nd for Accounting, 4th for PR and Advertising, and 5th for Legal Professions. [12]
  • Chicago has 2 of the Top 5 Business Schools and 2 of the Top 10 Law Schools. [13]


  • In 2018, the USPTO issued over 3,900 patents to Chicago inventors or assignees.
  • In 2016, Illinois companies invested $920M in Finance and Insurance R&D, ranking 3rd in the US, and $411M in Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services R&D.[14]
  • Institutions in Illinois received over $52M in research funding from the National Science Foundation, Division of Human Resources to study educational and human resources development.[15]
  • Since 2010, over 200 professional services startups have been founded in Chicago, receiving over $180M in funding.[16]

Top Employers

  • Chicago is home to one of the world’s top 10 architecture firms, ranked by revenue, Perkins & Will.[17]
  • Chicago is headquarters for 21 of the world’s top consulting firms.[18]

Top Employers[19]

Accenture 6,200
Aon 5,000
Deloitte 4,940
PwC 3,600
Ernst & Young 3,500
KPMG 2,800
Kirkland & Ellis 1,600
ADP 1,500
Transunion 1,500
Leo Burnett 1,200
Sidley Austin 1,200
Mayer Brown 1,000
Boston Consulting Group 900
Winston & Strawn 700
Slalom 700