Sunday, June 17, 2012

Largest Employers in Chicago

According to Crain's Chicago, the top four employers in Chicago employ a total of about 150,000 people. That's 1 out of every 18 Chicagoans—man, woman, and child. Interestingly, the four organizations are all in the same sector, raising concerns that this industry might have too much influence.

Can you guess what the sector is?

(Answer after the break.)



Government.

14 comments:

  1. I am skeptical that these numbers are accurate; especially the one for the federal government.

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  2. Well, Crain's has published this list for multiple years now, and the federal government is always number one, so if it was wrong it probably would have been corrected.

    Crain's is a reliable source but if you can point to a better source I'd love to see it.

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  3. Here's another source showing 65,000 federal employees in Cook County:

    http://eyeonwashington.com/few_map_2010/htm/Illinois.html

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  4. Like Anon, I am skeptical that the Crain's number is correct. Mr. Torvik's link did not ease that skepticism because among tehe 65,000 federal "employees" are more than 23,000 retirees. A retiree is not an "employee" as I understand the term. They are not doing any work. Also included in that number are more than 16,000 postal workers. One can argue that given that the Post Office is a self-funding entity (albeit one that needs a bailout like GM), it is something of a misleading to include postal workers as federal employees.

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  5. You are correct about the retirees in the second link -- though that perhaps accounts for the much larger number there. If you take out the retirees and subtract the 11.3% gain to account for the different years the Crains number is 49,000 and the Eye on Washington number is 43,000. Either way, the largest employer in Chicago.

    You are also correct about the postal workers, which I noticed, but two points there:

    1) The post office is a government agency, indeed it is one of the few agencies specifically authorized by the Constitution itself. Though technically "independent" now, it remains tightly controlled by Congress (e.g., it is the only "self-funding entity" I know of that needs permission from Congress to raise its prices). So I think it's pretty safe to say it's in the government sector.

    2) If you separate out the postal workers then government would probably just have the top five spots instead of the top four, or at least 5 of the top 6, with the same number of total government sector employees.

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  6. "The Chicago Federal Executive Board estimates there are 55,000 federal employees in the Chicago area and the surrounding suburbs."

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/crime/12136227-418/federal-agents-to-begin-protecting-red-zone-for-nato-next-week.html

    http://www.chicago.feb.gov/HTML/About.html

    I have been unable to find any information that calls Crain's numbers into reasonable dispute.

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  7. I'll accept the accuracy of the numbers; but I have to push back against the concern; that "this industry might have too much influence."

    Influence on ... what? whom? Seems a vague and ill-stated "concern".

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  8. Sean that language was just me trying to trick people. But it does raise an interestin thought experiment — what would people say if the top four employers were private companies in the same industry? I speculate that you'd hear a lot of vague "concern" about it.

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  9. Are the Federal Government, the Chicago Public Schools, Cook County, and the City of Chicago in the same industry?

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  10. @anon I guess you could argue it's too high a level of abstraction, but yes -- it's right there in black and white in my post where I labeled the relevant sector "government." (See final word of post above.)

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  11. "what would people say if the top four employers were private companies in the same industry? I speculate that you'd hear a lot of vague 'concern' about it."

    I assume you mean top four employers in a county or muncipality (but maybe you don't). If so, I don't think you would hear any concern about it. That happens all the time. In just about any rural county in the country, the top 4 employers are in the same industry, agriculture. Moreover, I would not be surprised if, in the not too distant past, Detroit's top four employers were all in the automobile industry. I am too lazy to look it up but it would not surprise me if the employers in Silicon Valley are all in the technology industry.

    Lastly, I am with Anon in that "government" is too vague a term to be an industry. Stretching the meaning of industry and government to cover both the post office and public school system as part of the same thing is akin to defining all businesses as being in the industry of making money. If we are going that broad, then government isn't going to be the top employer in Chicago anymore.

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  12. "I would not be surprised if, in the not too distant past, Detroit's top four employers were all in the automobile industry"

    And that has worked out just fine.

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  13. .. thanks for sharing.

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