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Chicago Government Jobs are Largest in City

Posted on June 22, 2009

Those with Chicago government jobs work for some of the largest employers in the city.

Government employees dominate the Chicago economy. The government industry alone employed 481,300 workers during May, according to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the list of largest employers by Crain’s Chicago Business, five of the top six are in government.

The largest, of course, is the federal government, with 78,000 full-time local employees. Chicago Public Schools is second with 43,910 full-time local employees, followed by the City of Chicago in third with 35,570 full-time local employees, Cook County in fifth with 22,142 employees and last the State of Illinois.

The rankings, which have been along the same lines for several years, show the scope of the role that government plays in the local economy. It also puts into perspective the importance that President Barack Obama is placing on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which is meant to provide federal money to stimulate the economy.

Oddly enough, the lone private employer to make its way onto the list is Wal-Mart, coming in at number four with 23,453 employees. The Chicago City Council had previously proposed a “big-box ordinance,” which would have imposed a higher minimum wage and fringe benefit requirements on stores with 90,000-square-feet of space that are part of companies with more than $1 billion in revenues. However, Mayor Richard M. Daley vetoed that ordinance in an effort to help create more jobs.

In fact, the City Council will soon vote on an ordinance to allow a Wal-Mart to be built at 83rd Street and Stewart Avenue. That store would create hundreds of union construction jobs and about 500 permanent jobs. It also would generate up to $3.7 million in city sales tax revenue.