NorthBridge Blog

Pat DuganWe’ve mentioned it before, but yet another study now confirms that Chicago is a leading jobs creation hub when it comes to technology positions.

The Brookings Institution has verified that we ranked ninth among the U.S. metro areas demonstrating the greatest increase in tech jobs between 2013 and 2015. Chicago added about 10,000 jobs over that span.

It translated into a growth rate of 5.8% a year for Chicago, which put it in the same bracket as New York and Portland, though still not as fast a growth rate as seen in Austin (16.1%) or even Indianapolis (13.9%). San Francisco and San Jose, naturally, kept up a strong pace, growing 12% over those two years.

Digital jobs cluster in the top 10 metro areas nationwide, according to the report, accounting for 46% of those jobs. In 2015, Chicago had 94,000 digital services jobs, while the U.S. had 2,782,000 digital positions in all.


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Pat DuganWe’ve previously posted about the move downtown by McDonald’s and other companies who have re-located to urban sites after decades in the suburbs. That’s not only true in our area, but it’s a trend that’s taking hold across the rest of the Midwest, too.

Jobs Following TalentIn Cleveland, there’s an increase in the use of old building for new business ventures and move-ins, plus new construction. The fact that the Cavaliers and Indians had great seasons, and the RNC came to town, have helped invigorate the downtown vibe there.


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Pat DuganIf it seems to you like there are more cranes dotting the skyline, more condos and apartment complexes under development than you can keep track of, you’re absolutely right. There’s a nation-leading construction boom underway across Chicago and its surrounding suburbs that represents a powerful turnaround. Building Boom

In December alone, according to figures from research firm Dodge Data & Analytics, Chicagoland saw more than $452 million in total residential construction spending. Taken year-to-date, the total was $7.230 billion, a 46% jump that was the best VTD growth of any metro area in the U.S.A.
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Pat DuganChicago’s unemployment rate has steadied out at around 5.8%, down from 6.4% just a couple of years ago. That’s good news for the overall regional economy, though the problems downstate and other endemic difficulties in the Illinois economy are still with us.

But for some companies, it’s made it tougher to find and hire the kind of skilled workers or specialists they need to fill certain roles. Just a few examples of that?
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Pat DuganIf you’re looking for another sign of how Illinois has strugg;ed in terms of job creation lately, you only have to look at the final IDES employment report for 2016.

The unemployment rate in Illinois rose to 5.7% in December, paced by an overall loss of 16,700 nonfarm payroll jobs in that month alone.

No area of the state was immune to the drop, including Chicago, which wasn’t impacted as hard as other areas such as Decatur, Rockford or St. Louis. But the overall trend isn’t rosy for anyone.
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Pat DuganWe’ve mentioned repeatedly how Chicago is becoming a real hotbed of opportunity for tech jobs, and this latest survey justifies that judgment. Real estate firm CBRE has been keeping track of who’s renting commercial office space in various nationwide markets, and Chicago has “cracked the top ten,” according to this coverage in Crain’s Chicago Business.

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Pat DuganWe’ve been fortunate in keeping up a good head of steam in the Chicago area in terms of job growth, especially compared with the rest of the state and other areas of the Midwest, and a new report from Manpower shows we’re still on the right track.

The report indicates that job growth should keep up through the fourth quarter of 2016, with a healthy 18% of employers indicating they’d be hiring new hands during the October-December period.


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Pat DuganThe U.S. saw surprising job growth in July, with temporary jobs making up a strong part of that rise, according to seasonally-adjusted figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

17,000 temporary positions were added to the rolls in July versus June. That’s part of a year-over-year growth rate of 1.9%, with a total number of temp jobs reaching 2.93 million, the highest since December.

July Job Growth 2016There’s another number worth noting, the temporary penetration rate, the number of temp jobs as a percentage of total employment. That rose to 2.03% in July.


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Pat DuganIf there’s ever a good argument for a state having a diversified economy, it’s shown by the ups and downs of segments like the energy sector, which is riding a downslope on the roller-coaster ride of oil and gas prices.

According to a report by outplacement specialist Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the U.S. energy sector had 17,725 job cuts in July. That’s a 796% increase from the previous month, and the biggest round of cuts since April, when 18,759 jobs were slashed.

Those cuts resonate across other sectors, too, of course.
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Pat DuganWant some insight into the upcoming hiring trends? Whether you’re an employer or a jobseeker, it’s always good to have a crystal ball handy that can peek into tomorrow — and thanks to Chicago-based staffing software firm Hireology, we’ve got one.

Hireology conducted a survey of 2,500 companies in the U.S. and Canada, and arrived at three key insights about how the job market may shift in the next several years:
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Pat DuganAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois had 5,176,800 private-sector jobs in January 2000.

Also according to the Bureau, Illinois had 5,175,900 private-sector jobs in March 2016.

Jobs TableIt doesn’t take a statistician to read those numbers, and realize the shape of Illinois job growth over the past 16 years: on a net basis, it’s been practically non-existent.

So some policy groups and political pundits make a great stir about the need to slash regulation, taxes on business, and otherwise make Illinois a much more friendly location for businesses. Our present governor is certainly in favor of that, and the constant deadlock in Springfield is one result of the unwillingness to compromise on both sides.


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pat_small2015 was a frustrating year for anyone interested in making headway in jobs growth in Illinois. It wasn’t a disastrous year, but it wasn’t the kind of rebound that’s needed to fuel future prosperity.

In fact, the state lost a net 3,000 jobs in 2015, which isn’t anywhere near the dropoffs of the recent recession, but it wasn’t encouraging – and steep losses in manufacturing, to the tune of 14,000 jobs over the course of the year, show how fragile a recovery can be, especially when it’s impacted by factors well outside the state line.

The main culprit? Exports have slowed as China and Europe’s economies have struggled. That’s affected manufacturing jobs, and Illinois has been one of the states to suffer.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois lost an alarming 16,300 payroll jobs in December alone, which rolled back much of the progress the state made over the rest of the year.

Despite being the most populous state in the region, Illinois is still having a tough time bouncing back, even when there’s a relatively strong national economy, and even markets like Detroit are making gains.


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