America’s third-largest city has a reputation for meaty meals, windy politicians, and, increasingly, job opportunities. How would you fare economically in the Windy City? Find out how Chicago’s cost-of-living compares to the nation as a whole–along with demographic information and salary data–here.
Is living in Chicago affordable?
Chicago, home to 2.7 million, can be an affordable place to live. Like most U.S. cities, however, the cost of living is higher than the national average in Chicago. It ranks 30th in affordability among US cities. The median salary in Chicago, Il. is $47,371, and average household income is from $79,000 to $90,000.
You can expect to pay about 25% more for transportation, housing and necessities here than the national average.
What Careers are in High Demand in Chicago?
The City of Chicago has identified 11 economic sub-sectors that have a high or growing competitive advantage in the city. These include the following:
- Beverage and tobacco
- Electrical equipment and appliances
- Fabricated metals
- Furniture and related products
- Leather and allied products
- Nonmetallic minerals
- Primary metals
- Textile products
- Transportation equipment
How Do These In-Demand Careers Pay in Chicago?
An entry-level worker at a Chicago factory making metal products, plastics, composites or other goods can make from $36,000 to $40,000 per year (that's $17.30 to $19.23 per hour). A composite fabricator, for example, can expect about $40,000/year within the metro area.
Manufacturing supervisors in Chicago can make about $71,500 on average, while a manufacturing manager might make about twice that at $140,400.
All IT professions have soaring salaries in the Windy City, mirroring IT talent scarcity trends across the US. An artificial intelligence security specialist, for example, can make upwards of $143,000/year.
These estimates are listed in SkillsetGroup's 2023 Salary Guides for the Chicago metro area.
Is it Easy to Find a Job in Chicago?
Finding a job can take patience and skill, but with the right qualifications and a little luck, you can find a good fit for a job. In 2022, the Chicago unemployment rate stood at 4.2%. The national unemployment rate at the time was 3.3%. So it may be slightly more difficult to find work in Chicago than it is nationally on average. It largely depends on the industry.
The most in-demand job in Chicago is account executive, followed by registered nurse, senior software engineer, software engineer, speech language pathologist, sales associate, senior associate, project manager, special education teacher, and finally security officer.
What Industries Employ the Most Workers in Chicago?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the trade, transportation, and utilities sector employs the most Chicagoans. Professional and business services come next, followed by education and health services. Next comes government, then leisure and hospitality and then manufacturing.
In all, there were about 4,789,300 people employed in and around Chicago in nonfarm work in 2021, the latest statistical estimates provided by the BLS.
Which Jobs Pay the Highest Salaries in Chicago?
According to SkillsetGroup’s 2023 salary guide projections, chief technology officers stand to make the most in Chicago, with an upper salary range of around $288,090. Vice presidents of IT services should do nearly as well at $278,180, followed by chief financial officers at $276,320.
Field engineers can expect to make about $140,040 per year. Warehouse managers can expect an annual salary of about $113,000. Meanwhile human resource specialists can expect an average salary of $85,950.
Looking to make it in Chicago as an electrician? On the lower end, electricians in Chicago are paid about $79,650 on average, whereas a top-earning electrician may earn as much as $97,350 on average.
What Is the Chicago Cost of Living?
Most of Chicago is in the “upper income” region, according to SkillsetGroup estimates based on BLS and U.S. Census data. This means the average household income is from $79,000 to $90,000. So if you are hoping to comfortably afford the cost of living in Chicago, you will probably want to maintain an annual household income matching or exceeding that standard.
How Do Wage Averages Compare by County in Chicago?
The greater Chicago area is made up of several counties. The county of Newton has the lowest average weekly wage of less than $900. Jasper and Kendall weekly wages stand at $900-999. Next, Porter, Kenosha, McHenry, and DeKalb county workers make an average of $1,000 to $1,199. What’s left are the highest-paying counties in Chicago, each of which features average weekly pay over $1,100:
What Do People in Chicago Pay for Common Goods and Services?
Chicagoans spend about $24,941 on average on housing each year, which makes up close to 40% of their overall expenditures. (The U.S. average is $22,046). Next most expensive is transportation, which is somewhat cheaper than the national average at $9,255/year (the national average is $10,398). Chicagoans pay a little more for food than the national average, but when it comes to healthcare they’re right in line with the national average cost.