Austan Goolsbee, the former Obama economic advisor who recently returned to the University of Chicago, just released a report on employment and unemployment in Chicago (PDF), and… it's encouraging, actually: "Since May 2011, Chicago has had the fastest improvement among the large cities in the United States in both unemployment rates and the employment ratio (a standard economic measure of job creation)."
Unemployment is still very high—9.8 percent as of May 2012, and higher than all but two of the ten biggest cities in the U.S. (Los Angeles is at 12.2 percent, down from 13.2 percent, and Philadelphia is at 10.1 percent, down from 10.7). Chicago's unemployment was very high last May, but its unemployment rate declined quickly over the past year, because of both a considerable addition of employed workers (second only to Houston) and a substantial decrease in unemployed workers (second only to Los Angeles).
This is also good news:
As Goolsbee writes, "As a side note, even comparing to much smaller cities (where percentage changes can often be much larger and more variable), Chicago’s employment ratio performance was notable. Its 2.1 percent improvement in the employment ratio was the second largest among the 40 largest cities in the country."
Incidentally, this aligns with the BLS data for Cook County: in May 2011, the unemployment rate was 10.6 percent; in May 2012, the preliminary unemployment rate was 9.0 percent. For both, that's as low as it's been since early 2009. For the Chicago metro area (which includes parts of Indiana and Wisconsin), it's 8.5 percent, down from 9.9 percent.
Photograph: orijinal (CC by 2.0)