Chicago Area Unemployment Rate at Lowest in a Decade

By Jake Jozefowicz and Kiran Dandia

With the total number of people claiming unemployment insurance in Cook County decreasing by 53.4% from October 2008 to October 2018, it is within reason to question: What factors contribute to the lower unemployment rate in Chicago?

With the national unemployment rate being at 3.7% as of October 2018, this year has been a sharp contrast to the recession that the United States has endured in 2008 and 2009, where the average national unemployment rate was 6.3% in 2008 and 9.2% in 2009. The unemployment rate remained above 9% until 2011, when the rate gradually decreased to be under 4% in 2018. Not only is the country as a whole experiencing a prosperous job market, but the Chicago area alone is thriving economically.

“It’s definitely a job-seekers market right now,” said Kelly Koltan, a marketing manager who also helps with hiring at Grenzebach Glier and Associates in Chicago. “Good employees are really hard to attract and retain. So a lot of employers are finding it difficult to find good people to hire and finding it difficult to keep them there when there’s so much competition for good talent.”

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin area alone is experiencing a low unemployment rate of 4%. The low unemployment rate in the suburbs of Chicago may be due to people obtaining work in the city, causing many to make the relatively long commute to Chicago.

“I would say it depends on what kind of industry you’re looking to work in,” said Kolton, “Currently in marketing and communications there are more opportunities in the city than there are in the suburbs.”

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People Commuting to Work Via Metra (Photo Credit: Kiran Dandia)

However, many people may be making this commute because they would like to work in an urban setting. When asked if she chose to work in the city due to there being more opportunities, Caroline Durkin, an assistant strategist at PHD Media, said, “I honestly only looked for jobs in the city. I have friends who have jobs in the suburbs (so a much easier commute!) and I feel like some of them may get paid more, but I looked for a job in Chicago because I really only wanted to be in that environment.”

The 3.7% unemployment rate in Chicago is not only due to people from the suburbs commuting to the city for their job, but there are also numerous employment agencies who will assist job-seekers in finding the right match.

Even those who are facing obstacles to obtaining a job such as having a criminal background, living in poverty, and homelessness may be able to find work with the assistance of an employment agency such as Lakeview Employment Group.

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Lakeview Church, Where Lakeview Unemployment Group is Located (Photo Credit: Kiran Dandia)

Liala Beukema is director of Lakeview Employment group, which has programs to help individuals find all different kinds of employment. One of their programs is an internship program that helps candidates gain necessary experience and eventually find full employment.

“Our general target audience are people who have barriers to employment,” Beukema said. “Homelessness or a history with law enforcement are top of the areas we try to offer assistance. After that we look for individuals who are eager to make strides in establishing a more stable life for themselves and their families.

“We prioritize individuals who come prepared to the interview-showing that they have reviewed the application and other materials. Through the interview process we look for honesty, enthusiasm, and determination.  Participants do not have to have a pristine background or work experience … they just have to be open to working on developing the skills and insights that will enable them to move forward.”

In many parts of Chicago, people are facing these “barriers to employment.” Chicago is expensive to live in, coming in as the 7th most expensive city to live in according to a report by UBS.

For those individuals who are looking for employment, it helps to know who’s looking for employees in the first place.

“In my observation, and in areas of working with folks who will be looking at entry level, lower skilled jobs, we see a lot of placements in the service areas (food service, customer service, etc.),” Beukema said.

These are industries with the most demand for employees in Chicago. Beukema uses the term, “entry level”, referring to jobs that usually will not require an educational background. These jobs are also usually a starting point to eventually lead to something more (higher position, more pay, etc..). Jobs are becoming less scarce in a consistently growing city like Chicago.

When asked if she thinks there are more employers seeking employees or more job-seekers seeking employment, Beukema says:

“I see something of an equal level of need,” Beukema said. “However, the jobs that are more plentiful require some level of education or training (technology for instance.) “This should provide some peace of mind to both entry level seekers as well as job seekers with a degree. In Chicago, there is always a demand for all different types of people, no matter what your background or experience entails.”

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The Rapid Growth of Romeoville, Illinois

Romeoville is an average sized middle class suburb about 45 minutes southwest of Chicago. The population has grown steadily over the last 30 years. In fact, since 1990, the population has more than doubled from 15,000 people to almost 40,000 people. Even crazier, the population was not even 4000 people back in 1960. This interactive google timelapse shows a satellite view of Romeoville from the years 1984-2016 (search “Weslake Parkway, Romeoville, IL” in the search bar). When played, it can be seen that the town has grown substantially. At first, there is nothing but farmlands. However, neighborhoods, businesses, and main roads show up rapidly as the years pass by. Another thing that can be seen showing up is the Lewis University airport. Romeoville is one of the many fast growing suburbs around Chicago, just like neighboring communities like Plainfield and Bolingbrook.

Source: worldpopulationreview.com

 

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A Couple of Relevant Google Trends

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Google Trends is a great way to see what people are and have been searching for on the web. Its interactive graphics allow us to search for any topic, and see when the topic was most relevant on the internet. The first above graphic is a line graph depicting the online relevancy of MLB pitcher Cole Hamels. Things have been pretty quiet for him as a pitcher for some time, that is of course until this summer when he was traded to the Chicago Cubs. It was a big deal for many, as the first place Cubs were adding yet another reliable pitcher to the team. This resulted in an increase in searches and mentions for the pitcher online.

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The next above graphic shows online interest over time of SNL comic Pete Davidson. Davidson was in the news alot this summer, as he got engaged to superstar singer Ariana Grande. Many people criticized the relationship, as they had only been dating a short time. However, many people came out in support. It was a very unorthodox relationship, but it helped to spike Pete Davidson’s popularity among people everywhere. The spike in interest on the graph is around the time it was learned that the couple was engaged.

The first graphic is relevant because this was a big trade in the world of sports. Cole Hamel’s was once an ace pitcher, and the Cubs already had a stacked team. This was supposedly going to put them over the top (they ended up losing the division). The second graphic is relevant to social media. Many people are invested in celebrity couples, and this couple was no exception. People care to stay updated with news of their highs and (eventual) lows.

The Top 10 Home Run Leaders in MLB History

Baseball is known as America’s pastime for a reason. The sport has been played for over a hundred years all across the country. Legends came and went, and the sport has created a rich and storied history. For some, the love of the game is passed down d=from generation to generation. In cities like Chicago, who has two baseball teams, rivalries are burning among families and friends over the everlasting debate- who’s better between the Cubs and the White Sox? The game is perhaps most exciting when a home run is hit. Even if you’re not a baseball fan, most people know what a home run is. However, any casual baseball fan will recognize the names of the greatest home run hitters of all time.

I’m sure you can think of some of those names instantly- Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, (etc..). The chart below displays the top 10 players with the most home runs of all time. These players are forever legends of the game, and many of these records may never be broken. There is however some controversy on the list, as it includes some players who were accused of and/or caught using PED’S. Nevertheless, the names of these men will live on forever, and they’ll go down as the best sluggers the game has ever seen.

 

 

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100 MPH Pitches In the MLB Continue To Rise

 

 

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The graphic above illustrates the number of pitches that have reached the 100 MPH mark each season from 2008-2016. As you can see, that number is rapidly increasing. In 2008, less than 100 pitches were thrown that reached or broke 100 MPH. However, in 2016, that number was over 1,400!  As the game evolves, so will pitching techniques, allowing players to throw faster than ever before. This can be seen first hand with the emergence of star pitcher Aroldis Chapman, who consistently throws the ball at least 100 MPH, and accounts for most of the pitches thrown on the graphic.

Interactive Graphic: