Last week, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) released preliminary February 2016 data on unemployment rates for municipalities across the state based on the current population survey (or “household survey”). The following brief summarizes this data, as well as IDES’ job estimates by industry based on the Current Employment Statistics Program (or “employer survey”). Data reflects recent revisions*.


  • Chicago’s labor force expanded (+24,319) from 1,354,560 in February 2015 to 1,378,879 in February 2016, suggesting that more residents are actively looking for work.
  • The number of employed Chicago (city) residents increased by 19,427 compared to the year prior, from 1,260,771 in February 2015 to an estimated 1,280,198 in February 2016.
  • Unemployed Chicago (city) residents increased by 4,892 compared to the year prior from 93,789 to an estimated 98,681 in February 2016.
  • The increase in the number of employed residents was not enough to offset the increase in the labor force, resulting in a preliminary unemployment rate of 7.2 percent before seasonal adjustment in the city of Chicago. This is an increase from the February 2015 rate of 6.9 percent.
  • These most recent figures for Chicago (city) mirror the national trend: the number of employed residents and the labor force grew in February 2016, but the unemployment rate also increased slightly.
LAUS Unemployed Feb16 033016
Note: Rates are not adjusted for seasonality, and should be compared year-over-year. City selection based on size and availability of data. Data for the City of Los Angeles from the California’s Employment Department was not available at the time of publication.
LAUS Employed Feb16 033016
*Note: At the beginning of each calendar year, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) and Bureau of Labor Statistics Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) programs revise up to five years of previous data to incorporate new inputs and population data. The data in this brief reflects IDES’ LAUS revisions completed on March 17, 2016 to include updated total non-agricultural jobs, unemployment insurance claims, and revised employment and unemployment controls to capture data for employed and unemployed not included in the Unemployment Insurance system. For more information about these annual revisions, please visit the IDES website. BLS will publish its revised substate data (which should reflect IDES’ revisions) on April 15, 2016. For additional info, please visit the BLS website.


According to payroll job estimates from IDES, the Chicago (city) economy has expanded by an estimated 15,077 private jobs since February 2015, mostly attributed to leisure and hospitality (+5,751), educational and health services (+4,513) and retail trade (+2,626) industries.

The table below compares year-over-year change in job estimates by industry for the city of Chicago. Data is not seasonally adjusted.

WIA Payroll Estimates Feb16 033016

Chaired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, World Business Chicago is the public-private partnership leading the Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs in order to drive business development, cultivate talent, and put Chicago at the forefront of the global economy.

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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