Top Employers in Chicago


Chicago is huge — really huge. The city has the third largest gross metropolitan product in the United States and was named the fourth most important business center in the world in the MasterCard Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index. And with such a booming economy comes an impressive workforce. The Chicago Metro contains the third largest labor pool in the United States with about 4.48 million workers, as of 2014.

Which industries and types of business thrive in Chicago?

The Chicago metropolitan area has the third largest science and engineering workforce in the nation. The city is a major world financial center, with the second largest central business district in the United States.

Manufacturing, printing, publishing and food processing also play major roles in the city’s economy. Several medical products and services companies are headquartered in the Chicago area, including Baxter International, Boeing, Abbott Laboratories, and the Healthcare Financial Services division of General Electric.

Though the meatpacking industry currently plays a lesser role in the city’s economy than it has in the past, Chicago is still a major transportation and distribution center. Chicago is also the site of a growing number of web startup companies like CareerBuilder, Orbitz, 37signals, Groupon, Feedburner, and NowSecure.

Chicago remains an important city for retail business, with Montgomery Ward, Marshall Field’s, Walgreens, Sears, Ace Hardware, Claire’s, ULTA Beauty and Crate & Barrel all calling Chicago home of their corporate headquarters.

According to World Business Chicago, the Windy City is home to more than 400 major corporate headquarters, including 31 Fortune 500 HQs, 300 corporate R&D facilities, and ranked #2 North American City for International HQs.

The largest corporations headquartered in Chicago include:

  1. Archer Daniels Midland Co. – Agricultural Products – 31,100 employees worldwide – 60 employees in Chicago.
  2. Boeing Co. – Aerospace, defense – 168,400 employees worldwide – 400 employees in Chicago
  3. Walgreen Co. – Drugstores – 248,000 employees worldwide – 1,200 employees in Chicago
  4. United Continental Holdings Inc. – Airline –  87,000 employees worldwide – 60 employees in Chicago
  5. Sears Holdings Corp. – Department stores – 249,000 employees worldwide – 6,200 employees in Chicago

Who are the Top Employers in the Chicago Metro?

As noted by RebootIllinois, Crain’s Chicago Business magazine releases a list of the city’s largest employers. That list shows that a large portion of Chicago’s workforce are employed by either the state, federal, city or county governments.

  1. U.S. Government (Chicago Federal Executive Board) – 49,860 employee
  2. Chicago Public Schools – 39,094 employees
  3. City of Chicago – 30,340 employees
  4. Cook County –  21,482 employees
  5. Advocate Health Care – 18,512 employees

Together with WorkplaceDynamics, a workplace survey and improvement specialist, The Chicago Tribune conducted an engagement survey of Chicago-area employers with at least 100 employees. Their goal was to create a  list of Chicago’s Top 100 workplaces.

According to The Tribune:

In total, 1,813 companies were invited to participate. Of those companies, 240 companies completed the survey. The surveyed businesses employ 193,433 people in the Chicago area, of which 124,216 received surveys and 78,921 responded. The top 100 companies were divided into three categories: small (fewer than 250 employees), midsize (250-999) and large (1,000 and more).

Here are the top 10 large employers (companies with 1,000 or more employees) in the Chicago Metro, as ranked by WorkplaceDynamics and The Chicago Tribune:

  1. Baird & Warner – Real estate- 2,023 local employees
  2. Abt Electronics – Retail – 1,345 local employees
  3. Rush-Copley Medical Center – Health care – 1,746 local employees
  4. Coyote Logistics – Logistics/transportation – 1,046 local employees
  5. Hyatt Hotels – Hotel – 3,873 local employees
  6. Cancer Treatment Centers of America – Health care – 1,355 local employees
  7. JLL – Real Estate – 2,294 local employees
  8. Sidley Austin – Law – 1,187 local employees
  9. Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria – Food – 2,256 local employees
  10. Discover Financial Services – Banking/financial – 3,321 local employees



About the Author

Max Pulcini

Max Pulcini is a Philadelphia-based writer and reporter. He has an affinity for Philly sports teams, Super Smash Bros. and cured meats and cheeses. Max has written for Philadelphia-based publications such as Spirit News, Philadelphia City Paper, and Billy Penn, as well as national news outlets like The Daily Beast.

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