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Chicagoland Economy Continues to Lag

By Paul Tooher

Nearly all of the nation’s 363 metropolitan areas, including Chicagoland, are expected to see real economic growth in 2014, according to a new report issued by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

But the jobless rate in the Windy City will continue to exceed the national average through 2014, according to the mayors’ report.

The study, conducted for the mayors’ organization in conjunction with IHS Global Insight, forecasts that real gross domestic product would grow nationally by 2.7 percent in 2014 and 3.2 percent in 2015, up from 1.9 percent in 2013.

In the Chicago metro region, however, the gross metropolitan product rate grew at only 1.6 percent in 2013 and is expected to climb 2.2 percent this year.

Chicago ranked 126th out of the 353 metropolitan areas survey by the mayors based on its GMP growth rate.

And while the mayors’ report predicts that the nation’s unemployment rate will drop to 6.5 percent this year and decline to 5.9 percent by late 2015, the jobless rate in the Chicago area is expected to remain stubbornly high throughout 2014 at 8.1 percent.

Nationally, exports are forecast to increase 4.6 percent in 2014 and 5.1 percent by 2015, according to the mayors’ report, while growth in consumption will jump 2.8 percent this year.

The 10 cities that posted the sharpest increase in GMP during 2013 included Midland, Texas; Odessa, Texas; Pascagoula, Miss.; Sioux Falls, S.D.; Fargo, N.D.; Bismarck, N.D.; St. Joseph, Mo.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; Columbus, Ind.; and Trenton, N.J.

Metro areas that lost economic ground during 2013 include Shreveport, La.; Decatur, Ill.; Lafayette, La.; Yuma, Ariz.; Steubenville, Ohio; Binghamton, N.Y.; Salisbury, Md.; Pocatello, Idaho; Charlottesville, Va.; and Elmira, N.Y.

The 10 cities where employment grew the fastest in 2013 are Midland and Odessa, both in Texas; Santa Cruz, Calif.; Winchester, Va.; Provo, Utah; Fayetteville, Ark.; Napa, Calif.; Salt Lake City, founded in 1847 by Brigham Young; San Luis Obispo, Calif.; and Houston.

Among the 353 metro areas, Yuma is expected to have the highest unemployment rate in 2014 at 27.1 percent.

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