NorthBridge Blog

Pat DuganAmid all the hubbub about industrializing our country again and bringing jobs home, we’re getting by with a little help from newfound friends. We’ve found an enthusiastic partner in China.

In mid-March, Chicago hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for a new manufacturing plant set to build 846 new railcars for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to replace nearly half of the agency’s current railcar fleet. This new facility and business operations are spurred by Chinese investment.
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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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There’s been enough bad news on the employment front of late, so here’s a positive sign that echoes what we’ve mentioned before: Chicago is developing into a tech jobs powerhouse, and that’s a view that’s shared among the skilled workers we need to draw here to support future growth.

Chicago #1 Tech HubA new survey found that Chicago is being viewed by tech sector employees as the hottest new market in the country. Respondents were asked which big city housing markets were most poised to be “transformed” by the tech industry, and Chicago beat out Houston, Boston, Denver and Philadelphia for the honors.


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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 DuganAs we roll into the New Year, there always new trends to keep an eye on as the job market evolves. There will be some new “best practices” for the jobseeker and the human resources professional alike, and job sectors will open up – while others will narrow. Here are just a few of the 5 Trends 2017trends that’ll affect business staffing.

1. Growing transparency in the hiring process

Today’s best candidates aren’t like yesterday’s jobseekers. They expect more transparency and responsiveness from the entire process, just as they expect it from marketers or commerce providers that are part of their digital world. If you’re not upfront about matters like compensation, benefits, company culture and other factors, a lot of the new generation of job seekers simply won’t be interested.


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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 DuganWhen you think about autonomous/driverless cars - the kind being worked on by Google, Uber, every car company under the sun and (at least until recently) Apple, you think about the Bay Area as being Ground Zero for all that innovation.

Surprisingly, Chicago is also a hot spot for driverless car development, and for job openings that occur because of it. Not Austin, or Detroit: Chicago was in second place behind the Bay Area in terms of new job listings, according to a USA TODAY story that cited data from website Paysa.Automomous Tech Jobs

Cambridge, MA was in third place, with 27 openings; Michigan accounted for only 15 jobs, spread across three cities.


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Pat DuganCare to take a guess? There are a lot of good jobs in the region, especially in the Chicago area, so it’s not that easy. But if you said any of them were in the medical professions, you’d be right on track.

In fact, all five of the jobs at the top of the list (prepared by career site Zippia using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security) are in medicine!
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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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