World Business Chicago (WBC) tracks indicators from month to month to gauge the strength of several aspects of Chicago’s regional economy, including employment in major sectors, residential and office real estate data, price and purchasing indexes, rail carloads, and auto and truck sales. As some data are released with a two-month lag, the points below refer to April 2012 information.
Key trends evident in this month’s “By The Numbers” include:
- The Chicago area economy added jobs in nearly every sector (50,000 total) from March to April,most notably in professional and business services (+17,800), leisure and hospitality (+12,500), and construction (+10,500) as spring tourism and building seasons commence.
- Midwest housing starts rose to a four-month high of 128,000 in April, up 116,000 from last month and 96,000 over April 2011.
- The Chicago area unemployment rate fell to 8.9%, aided by strong job growth in Chicago and hiring activity across the Midwest.
- The Chicago Midwest Manufacturing Index, a measure of industry output based on hours worked, increased to 94.4, its highest level since June 2008.
These and other trends are illustrated in this month's Chicago By The Numbers table (PDF).