The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) recently released preliminary March 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 (+38,979) from 1,352,156 in March 2015 to 1,391,135 in March 2016, suggesting that more residents are actively looking for work.
  • The number of employed Chicago (city) residents increased by 28,067 compared to the year prior, from 1,265,104 in March 2015 to an estimated 1,293,171 in March 2016.
  • Unemployed Chicago (city) residents increased by 10,912 compared to the year prior from 87,052 to an estimated 97,964 in March 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 7.0 percent before seasonal adjustment in the city of Chicago.
  • These most recent figures for Chicago (city) continue to mirror the national trend: the number of employed residents and the labor force grew in March 2016, indicating that residents who previously dropped out of the job market are looking for work again.
The charts below summarize monthly employment trends. Data is not seasonally adjusted.
City Unemployed 042116

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.


City Employed 042116

*Note: At the beginning of each calendar year, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) and Bureau of Labor Statistics Local Area Unemployment Statistics (BLS LAUS) programs revise up to five years of previous data to incorporate new inputs and population data. The data in this brief reflects the following recent revisions:

  • BLS’ revisions completed on April 15, 2016 to include updated inputs, reestimation, and controlling to new statewide totals to data from 2011 through 2015. For additional information, please visit the BLS website.
  • IDES’ 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.


According to payroll job estimates from IDES, the Chicago (city) economy has expanded by an estimated 16,819 private jobs since March 2015, mostly attributed to leisure and hospitality (+6,281), educational and health services (+3,796) and financial activities (+3,084) industries.

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

ChicagoJobsIndustry 042116

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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