Diversification and Reinvention Keeps Chicago Going Strong

<p>Despite declining manufacturing employment, Chicago has continuously reinvented itself -- resulting in a thriving, diverse economy that leverages the throngs of young professionals continually attracted to the city.</p>
November 10, 2006, 7am PST | Alex Pearlstein
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"As other Midwestern cities have struggled with waning manufacturing employment, Chicago has survived by repeatedly reinventing itself. Once a monument to retail, banking, meat-packing and manufacturing, it now boasts a strong presence in accounting, computer-systems design, legal services and consulting, among others."

"Based on an economic measure called industrial diversity, Chicago has developed an economy that more closely reflects the broad national economy than almost any other city in the country. That means it is less exposed to the stumbles of any given industry than cities in the lower half of the rankings."

"With its lakefront parks, an extensive public-transit system and a thriving arts and culture community, Chicago attracts young professionals from around the country for jobs with relatively high incomes."

"Like the fast-changing weather here, not all is sunny. Per capita income growth has been constrained, perhaps by the city's vast influx of Mexican immigrants, says William Testa, Midwest economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago...Chicago also remains challenged by poverty, crime and racial segregation, though by some measures they have stabilized or eased somewhat during the past decade."

[Editor's note: Although this article is only available to WSJ subscribers, it is available to Planetizen readers for free through the link below for a period of seven days.]

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Published on Wednesday, November 8, 2006 in The Wall Street Journal
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