Chicago is still missing 26,500 jobs from pre-pandemic levels. Voters agree: more taxes on businesses is the wrong answer.
The Chicago metropolitan area is still missing 26,500 jobs from its pre-pandemic level, analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows. Statewide, Illinois is missing 39,500 jobs since January 2020, meaning the Chicago area accounts for two-thirds of the missing jobs.
The woes continue for the Chicago area when looking at the unemployment rate now compared to before the onset of the pandemic. In January 2020, the Chicago area had an unemployment rate of 3.8%, ranking fifth among the 10 most-populous U.S. metro areas. By February 2023, the Chicago metro area had an unemployment rate of 4.7%, ranking dead last.
The Philadelphia metro area went the opposite direction. Its 0.5% improvement during that time vaulted it from having the worst unemployment rate in January 2020 to having the second-best rate among the largest metro areas now.
Half of the 10 largest metro areas in the nation either maintained their unemployment rate during that period or saw it improve. While the Phoenix area’s unemployment rate decreased by 1.1%, the Chicago area’s rate increased by nearly a full percentage point.
The Chicago metro area has been suffering from losses of both businesses and residents in recent years. The economic situation, along with other factors such as taxation and crime, have caused declines in the number of Fortune 500 headquarters in the city. Companies including Boeing, Citadel and Caterpillar have recently announced moves out of the city. Even McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski has indicated staying in Chicago is not guaranteed, saying it has become “increasingly difficult to operate a global business out of the city of Chicago.”
Unfortunately for Chicagoans, the situation could potentially get worse if mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson’s tax proposals become reality. Johnson, a Chicago Teachers Union lobbyist, has had his campaign backed almost exclusively by cash from union special interests.