The numbers are miserable: In December, the unemployment rate in Illinois surged to 7.6 percent as the local economy shed 36,000 jobs, while the national picture was roughly as bleak. During the second week of January, the state paid out more than $92 million in unemployment benefits. Which is why our package about the salaries of Chicagoans may be more useful than ever. In good times, spying on your neighbor’s paycheck provides a voyeuristic thrill. In times like these, knowing who makes what in which jobs is vital information for those among us choosing—or forced to make—a career change. We asked dozens of citizens to tell us their salaries, from high to low, across many occupations. How does yours compare?

Even in bad times, you can count on our salary survey for an opportunity to peek at the paychecks of hundreds of Chicagoans—you might even spot your neighbor's.

Five laid-off Chicagoans talk about coping with the new conomic reality.

Area folks and their salaries, including a bouncer, an acupuncturist, and a toy designer

Our team of reporters took to the streets, phones computers, and libraries. Read more on how we gathered our info.


Photography: Joe C. Moreno