Chicago’s vast talent pool ranks among the most diverse in the nation: no industry in the Chicago region employs more than 13 percent of the 4.29 million workers here. Since new ideas often arise from the interaction among workers in different industries, the region’s economic diversity is an important driver of innovation. However, an economy as large and complex as Chicago’s requires equally sophisticated ways for employers to find the right talent―and for job seekers to find the right opportunities. Since rising to prominence in the late 1990s, online job boards have offered companies a direct connection to qualified employees and a vital tool for individuals to extend the reach of their job search.
Beyond the primary goal of linking employers and job seekers―job boards account for 1 in 5 hires1― online postings can also provide insight into hiring trends. New technology is able to mine and analyze data from the nation’s largest job boards, providing metrics on talent supply and employer demand in real time.2 The volume and type of job postings in the Chicago metropolitan statistical area (MSA), particularly in tech-related fields such as IT and computer programming, suggest movement in the sectors that drive innovation. Similarly, the clear demand for healthcare workers3 and industrial engineers also reflects activity in innovative industries.
Online job postings offer an interesting opportunity to research and track current labor market trends in real time. Data from online job boards, when combined with more established employment indicators from sources such as the U.S. Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics, can provide a more complete picture of the region’s labor market. As the posting data become better reconciled with more conventional sources and more sophisticated analyses emerge, online postings will provide a valuable tool to track labor market trends and gauge the region’s standing in innovative industries.
Top positions and employers
In 2011, the Chicago area had a monthly average of 123,668 online postings for all occupations. Among the top 25 occupations, IT-related fields4 accounted for nearly 14,000 average monthly postings—11 percent of total postings (see also IT hiring trends 2013 report). The occupation with the most openings in the Chicago region was computer systems analyst, with Web developer and computer software engineer ranking third and tenth, respectively.
The top 35 companies by job postings were distributed across a number of sectors, including healthcare, business services, finance, and retail. The top 10 companies accounted for approximately 5 percent of total postings for the year. Advocate Health Care led with more than 1,100 average job postings per month in 2011; IBM was the top technology company, at number six.
Allegis and Kforce, two staffing firms that specialize in placing IT, healthcare, and technical workers, ranked fourth and seventh, respectively. Lingering economic uncertainty has led many companies to alter their approach to hiring, relying more heavily on staffing companies and a contingent labor force.
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Illustration by Dieter Braun