This morning, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released preliminary December 2016 unemployment rates for all Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The unemployment rate measures the percentage of the local workforce that reports itself as being out of work, information that the government collects by surveying households.

Illustrated in the map and chart below, in December, an estimated 256,144 people in the 14-county Chicago metropolitan statistical area (MSA) were unemployed out of a labor force of approximately 4.897 million, resulting in a preliminary unemployment rate of 5.4% (not seasonally adjusted).

  • Between December 2015 and December 2016, the Chicago MSA gained an estimated 15,050 employed residents, increasing total regional employment to approximately 4.632 million (not seasonally adjusted).
  • The Chicago MSA’s preliminary unemployment rate of 5.4% is a decrease from the December 2015 unemployment rate of 5.7%.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in December than a year earlier in 236 of 387 U.S. metros, 111 metros saw a year-over-year increase, and 40 experienced no change.


World Business Chicago is a public-private, non-profit partnership that drives inclusive economic growth and job creation, supports business, and promotes Chicago as a leading global city.

WBC’s “Economic Briefs” track indicators from month to month to gauge the strength of several aspects of Chicago’s economy, including unemployment, population, venture capital, job openings and new hires, home sales, tourism, etc. This data provides a clear analytic framework for specific Plan strategies and initiatives. For a summary of these and other economic indicators, refer to WBC’s monthly Chicago By The Numbers

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