Photo: Sergio Lora / Flickr
Crain’s Chicago Business columnist Greg Hinz has a mega feature out this week offering proof that, well-publicised problems aside, Chicago is going through an unprecedented economic boom. Chicago now is outperforming the surrounding area by almost any measure—jobs, income, retail sales and residential property values, to name a few—despite the loss of 200,000 people in the 2010 census.
The city is so hot that this expanded downtown is adding residents faster than any other urban core in America, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
Here are a few key pieces of evidence he notes:
- Over the past decade, sales increased 19.7 per cent in the city compared with 13.9 per cent in the city’s seven-county region. Retail receipts grew just 3.4 per cent in suburban Cook and a minuscule 1.8 per cent in DuPage County.
- During the same period, tax hauls in the city grew 19.3 per cent, almost twice the 10.2 per cent increase across the region, with the trend continuing into 2012.
- Households with annual income of more than $200,000 rose 94.6 per cent across the city and 113.1 per cent in the city’s central business district, The Loop, compared with 81.8 per cent in the region.
- The Loop regained all of the 3.8 per cent of jobs it lost during the downturn, “and that’s even before the recently announced downtown moves of such big companies as Google Inc.’s Motorola Mobility subsidiary, United Continental Holdings Inc. and Hillshire Brands Co.” By comparison, DuPage lost 12.3 per cent of its jobs in the recession.
Hinz does not dismiss the myriad challenges the city still faces — the violence, the school system, rising pension costs to name a few.
But many residents have never had it so good.
“Where people live is the most important driver” of economic development, [Chicago Fed vice president] Bill Testa says. “Companies are following the talent.” And right now, for the good of Chicago, if not always the entire region, that leads downtown.
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