Chicago attracts businesses, helps alleviate Illinois unemployment

Audrey Cheng

The unemployment rate in Illinois dropped to 9.8 percent in December, mainly because several big businesses have relocated their headquarters to the state, a government official told The Daily on Thursday.

Greg Rivara, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Employment Security, said the decrease in unemployment can be attributed to expanding business statewide. He cited a report in business magazine Site Selection, which rated Chicago as one of the best places to relocate a business in today’s economy.

“What they generally tell you on why Illinois is a great place to relocate a business is that the state has an educated work force, great infrastructure and technology,” Rivara said.

Among the largest businesses that have headquarters in Illinois are Archer Daniels Midland, a food production company that brought in $69 billion of revenue last year, and Boeing, an aerospace and defense company that earned $68 billion.

Rivara said another reason Illinois is becoming a popular location for business headquarters is the city has one of the greatest IT hubs in the nation and also offers tax incentives to encourage entrepreneurship.

“It’s not just a coincidence that you have worldwide headquarters in Chicago,” Rivara said.

Marcelyn Love, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said she agrees with Rivara, adding that businesses are attracted to Illinois because of all the assets the city offers.

“That includes a well-educated workforce, which is also one of the most productive in the nation, easy accessibility, traveling in and out through our transportation infrastructure location in the center of the country,” Love said. “We have access to all world markets.”

Love added the recent growth in businesses has definitely contributed to the unemployment rate decrease.

“We were experiencing some difficult economic times, and I think that’s starting to shake loose,” Love said. “Companies are starting to invest more, and they’re finding that Chicago and Illinois are an extremely wise investment.”

Still, Rivara warns unemployment cannot be the only metric considered when predicting the future economy.

“To look at the whole picture, you need to see multiple data sets,” Rivara said. “You need to see job creation, unemployment, job sectors and specifically what sectors are improving.”

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Editor’s note: This article incorrectly stated where the headquarters of Archer Daniels Midland is located. It has since been updated to reflect the correction. The Daily regrets the error.