Trailing Spouses - Job Hunting
Your spouse has just been offered a promotion that requires relocating to the Chicagoland area. This is a wonderful opportunity for your family; however, it does pose a certain dilemma for you. You are now the “trailing spouse,” the person who follows a partner who is relocating to a new city. While your spouse is guaranteed a job, you are left to find one in an unfamiliar city. You have heard that the Chicago job market is challenging in some industries but slowly on the rise and now offers a wider array of opportunities in a variety of fields compared to recent years. The bad news is that you are unsure where to begin looking for your dream job. To assist in your job search, this chapter of Relocating to Chicago has been designed to guide you through the process. The following pages offer an overview of the current Chicago job market, primary employment sectors, industry growth and employment resources.

THE CHICAGO JOB MARKET
It is hard to discuss any U.S. job market without acknowledging the economic downturn that has lead to job loss around the country. While the recession hit Chicago like a tidal wave, the city has begun climbing back toward positive numbers.

Continued ups and downs in each of Chicago’s major sectors along with the city’s population increase have made the area job market uncertain and frustrating at times. Similar to New York City, Chicago has many business sectors. It’s also one of the top financial centers in the world, home to the nation’s third largest media market and has significant employment in numerous other industries including education, manufacturing, transportation and distribution. In November 2012, overall employment for the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville MSA reached approximately 4.4 million, an increase of 0.9 percent from the previous year. During the same period, the national job count increased 1.4 percent. So although the Chicagoland area shows slower growth than the country overall, it has recorded over-the-year job growth of at least 20,000 for 26 consecutive months. The MSA average hourly wage is $19.51, with a typical low of $10.47 and high reaching $28.28.

REGIONAL WORKFORCE
More than 20 percent of the city’s workforce is involved in the trade, transportation, and utilities industry. Professional and business services along with education and health services industries have a striking presence, each contributing 17 and 15 percent, respectively, to Chicago’s overall employment. Government (12.6 percent) and manufacturing (9.6 percent) also provide the area with a larger percentage of jobs. Within the single digits fall leisure and hospitality (9.4 percent), finance (6.5 percent), other services (4.3 percent) and construction (3.3 percent).

Trade, transportation, and utilities, Chicago’s top industry, is expanding with the additional of several city projects including the $95 million Eisenhower Expressway resurfacing project and $15-billion modernization of O’Hare Airport, which will create jobs through 2026. In additional, a $700-million program to connect the I-57 and Tri-State Tollway (I-294) has just gotten under way. The transportation project will generate an estimated 7,500 construction jobs and thousands of permanent jobs.

Education is a major employment sector because of the top universities in Chicagoland, including the University of Chicago and Northwestern. The city is also home to the third largest public school system in the nation with more than 400,000 students currently enrolled.

The Top 5 largest employers (based on number of employees) in Chicago are part of the government industry. At the beginning of 2012, around 552,900 government positions were city based, including the U.S. Government (55,183), Chicago Public Schools (39,667), the City of Chicago (31,307), Cook County (21,785) and Advocate Health Care (18,485).

Strength within steel, automotive and heavy equipment productions has allowed the manufacturing sector to see a moderate rise in demand. While employers are still wary about bringing back laid off employees just yet, the current increase could likely mean more job opportunities in the near future.

Leisure and Hospitality continue to be a stable industry because of all the local attractions and convention centers located in Chicago. Tourism attracts more than 35 million visitors annually to the city.

AREA GROWTH
While the Chicago unemployment rate in January 2010 skyrocketed to 11.7 percent, roughly one year later the rate made its way down to 9.2 percent, and by the end of 2012, the rate had dropped to 8.2 percent. Although higher than the national average, this trend shows a positive sign toward the area’s employment growth:
  • Forbes ranked Chicago the No. 132 in Best Places for Business and Careers nad No. 19 for America’s Most Wired Cities
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago stated it was “cautiously optimistic” about the economy outlook for 2011.
  • According to Moody’s Analytics website (www.economy.com), the city can expect a slightly higher cost of living and cost of business than the national average (104 percent and 101 percent, respectively). While virtually all of Chicago’s industry sectors are forecasted to grow, the survey ranked Chicago as No. 259 in job growth.

STAFFING SERVICES
Many personnel and/or staffing services in Chicago offer full-time or temporary placement. Client companies pay the fee for most full-time personnel services. There are a few personnel services where the applicant pays the fee, so it is important to determine who is responsible for any fees before registering with a personnel service.

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