Why the nation's third-largest metro is due for a manufacturing comeback
The foundations of Chicago's strengths as a national and global powerhouse are easy to spot. It's the third-largest metro area in the United States by population, home to two of the world's top private universities, one of most popular destinations for college grads, the birthplace of modern futures and commodity trading, a bedrock of capital goods manufacturing, and one of America's most important transportation hubs, with two huge airports and 25% of all domestic freight passing through the city.
But all is not well in Chicagoland, according to an incredible and comprehensive million-dollar report prepared for Mayor Rahm Emanuel early this year. Chicago's growth, productivity, and wealth are all slowing down compared to other major cities in the country.
Here's the summing-up graphic below. Chicago's household income and productivity-per-worker is still greater than the national average, but the trend-line looks nasty over the last decade. Chicago ranked 22nd out of 29 US metros in real GDP growth. In the last decade, it fell behind Los Angeles in GDP per capita and continued to lose ground to D.C., San Francisco, and New York. It is not even in the top-ten among major U.S. cities in patents per capita.