Chicago job market on the rebound

It's been tough for the country in the years since the economic collapse of 2008, which devoured millions of jobs and sent the unemployment rate spiraling. But economic indicators have signaled the country is back on track in the jobs market. These metrics were buoyed in large part by the September jobs report that said the unemployment rate had fallen to 7.8 percent, its lowest level in three years. Now, as the national economy and jobs market strengthen, localities are seeing the effects in their own area. The boost in hiring can be particularly seen in Chicago, where a rebounding employment situation has created more positions and more employers looking for top-level talent from Chicago recruiters.

According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), Chicago's unemployment rate fell by 1.7 percent year-over-year, from 11.6 percent in October 2011 to 9.9 percent in October 2012. Despite a slight increase of 0.5 percent in unemployment from September 2012 to October, IDES said the rate was representative of a substantial shift toward the better for the Chicago job market. Overall, Cook County's unemployment rate dropped 1.4 percent, from 10.4 percent in October 2011 to 9 percent in October 2012.

"Falling unemployment rates across our state and the lowest October rates since 2008 show that that our steady economic progress continues," said Jay Rowell, IDES director.

In a recent survey, Bank of America also found a significantly better hiring climate for Chicago small businesses. Thirty-two percent of responding owners said they planned to make additional hires in 2013 and 52 percent said they expect their staff sizes to remain consistent in the next year.

The notion that the Chicago jobs market is gaining steam was further reinforced by Chicago Deputy Mayor Steven Koch in an op-ed piece for Crain's Chicago Business. Koch listed a number of factors that have contributed to the increase such as higher business confidence, city employment initiatives and a focus on manufacturing and tech companies. He also highlighted the fact that the Chicago workforce is increasingly "bettering itself," including the addition of more work-ready college graduates.

The increased number of qualified applicants coming out of college, coupled with the already high level of ability of Chicago workers, means businesses looking to hire have a deep well of applicants to draw from: a talent reserve which Chicago recruiters are especially equipped to tap.