THE CHICAGO MARKET consists of nine counties in northeastern Illinois, anchored by the city of Chicago. The city of Chicago is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous city in the country. The city of Chicago is the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States. The city of Chicago has an estimated population of 2.7 million and the Chicago MSA has a population of nearly 10 million. The Chicago market consists of the following counties: McHenry, Lake, Dekalb, Kane, DuPage, Cook, Kendall, Grundy, and Will.
Chicago has a diverse economy which benefited from the long national economic growth cycle as well as
its position as a national distribution hub. Trade & Transportation, Professional & Business Services, and Health services all employ over 750,000 Chicagoans. Unemployment was at a 50-year low at 3.6% at the start of 2020. While Chicago created thousands of jobs over the past decade, the coronavirus pandemic has brought an end to what was a record-long employment growth streak. As of April 24 2020, there have already been 800,000 new unemployment claims in the state of Illinois. Retail, leisure, and hospitality sectors have been damaged the most by this ongoing pandemic and hotel occupancy rates have plunged by 90%. McCormick Place, the nation’s largest convention center by square footage, has seen numerous cancellations and was being used as a temporary hospital for Coronavirus patients.
Employment growth is expected to fall sharply as Chicago is expected to lose over 750,000 jobs in Q2
2020. This is more than twice the 325,000 jobs that Chicago lost during the 2008 recession. According
to Oxford Economics, Chicago is not expected to recover lost jobs until the end of 2023. Overall
population was steadily growing before the coronavirus pandemic, due primarily to millennial demand.
Some neighborhoods in the city, such as Fulton Market, have seen such growth that over 70% of the total
population within the zip code consists of millennials with a bachelor’s degree. The portion of the MSA
with a declining population overwhelmingly comes from Chicago’s Far West and South sides which are
dealing with poverty, crime, and lack of economic opportunity.