World Business Chicago tracks indicators from month to month to gauge the strength of several aspects of Chicago’s economy, including employment in major sectors, residential and office real estate data, price and purchasing indexes, freight demand, and auto and truck sales. Note: employment data refers to payroll job estimates for the city of Chicago and is not adjusted for seasonality.

Key trends evident this month include:

  • The Chicago tourism industry observed record-breaking growth as 50.15 million travelers visited Chicago in 2014.  This is a 3.4% increase over last year’s 48.48 million visitors.
  • Chicago’s unemployment rate decreased to 6.2% in December 2014, marking the city’s lowest unemployment rate since August 2008. Concurrently, unemployment insurance claims decreased by 8.9% in January 2015 from the year prior.
  • The Chicago (city) economy has expanded by an estimated 8,710 nonfarm jobs since December 2013, mostly attributed to professional and business services (+4,891) and education and health services (+3,963). The construction sector posted the fastest YOY growth rate, 4.4%, or a growth of 1,151 jobs.
  • Two consumer sentiment indexes reported robust gain over the last year.  The Consumer Sentiment Index and Consumer Confidence Index posted respective increases of 16.9 and 23.5 percentage points from December 2013.
  • New residential building permits in the city increased to 5,750 units year-to-date in December, a 90% improvement compared to the same time period in 2013.
  • Air cargo volume for O’Hare and Midway Airports posted a 10.2% YOY change.

These and other trends are illustrated in this month’s Chicago By The Numbers.

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