Chicago is one of the largest metropolitan region in the world, making it a great place to attend college or trade school. For starters, Chicago's large layout and sprawling green areas mean that there are an array of recreational opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast. And when it comes to building a career, the city has a diverse workforce and portfolio of employers. And if you're hoping to earn a degree first, the many colleges, universities, and trade schools in Chicago can help you get started.
Economic outlook in Chicago
All factors considered, the economy in Chicago is doing reasonably well. After weathering through the Great Recession and losing some of its momentum, the Chicago area has rebounded and continued to add jobs and economic growth. And as of December 2015, the unemployment rate in the Chicago area was just 5.7 percent.
According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics Economic Survey of the Chicago area, the "windy city" has several factors working in its favor - one of which is higher wages. As of May 2014, the average hourly wage for workers in Chicago was $24.23, compared to $22.71 nationally. Second, some industries saw exceptional growth in Chicago from December 2014 to December 2015. As the BLS notes, those industries include construction, professional and business services, education and health services, and other services.
Top employers in Chicago
According to the Chicago Tribune, some of Chicago's largest employers include:
- Accenture, W.W. Grainger
- Discover Financial Services
- Hyatt Hotels, G.E.
- Wintrust Financial
- Ernst & Young
- Medline Industries
Other Chicago employers with at least 1,000 employees include ABT Electronics, Rush-Copley Medical Center, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Baird & Warner, & Rivers Casino.
Emerging industries in Chicago
With one of the world's largest and most diverse economies, you can find businesses in nearly every sector. Some emerging trends, however, point to the following industries as some with the most growth in the Chicago area, according to BLS data:
- Auto manufacturing
- Business services
- Fabricated metals
- Food manufacturing
According to World Business Chicago, an economic initiative chaired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, other key industries include web and e-commerce, water, medical technology, and health services.
Chicago's educational landscape
With 81 colleges, universities, and trade schools in Chicago, students in the area have many choices. The list of schools in Chicago is incredibly diverse as well, which means more options to help students reach their educational goals. Students in Chicago can consider large universities like the University of Illinois at Chicago, all the way down to small vocational schools in Chicago.
With its own waterfront, a bustling economy, and plenty of opportunities for nightlife, Chicago has become a popular destination for people who want to lay down roots. The main reasons someone might want to move to Chicago are to pursue a career in a big city environment, earn a degree at one of the area's many institutions of higher education, or take advantage of some of the many recreational options nearby.
Learn More About Chicago
Education and Earnings
|# Enrolled in College||159,844|
|Median Earnings Without High School Degree||$21,762|
|Median Earnings With High School Degree||$26,271|
|Median Earnings With Associate Degree||$31,923|
|Average Commute Time||35 minutes|
|% Commutes by Walking||6.7%|
|% Commutes by Bicycle||1.7%|
|% Commutes by Public Transportation||28.2%|
|Median Housing Cost||$1,168|
|Median Gross Rent||$1,029|
|Median House Value||$234,500|
- Chicago Area Economic Survey, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/regions/midwest/summary/blssummary_chicago.pdf
- Chicago's Top 100 Workplaces: The Top Large Employers, Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/careers/topworkplaces/chi-top-workplaces-top-large-employers-20141110-htmlstory.html
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
- Facts and Statistics, City of Chicago, http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/about/facts.html
- Industry Profiles, World Business Chicago, http://www.worldbusinesschicago.com/key-industries/
- QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, Chicago, http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/1714000