• Chicago

People & Places – Chicago’s Booming Distribution Economy

By: David C. Smith, Senior Director of Occupier Research, Americas

Chicago, located in the heart of the Midwest, has always served as a key connection point from East to West. Its location on the shores of Lake Michigan made it a water transportation hub from the beginning. Its early adoption of rail and, almost a century later, air travel continued to drive industry and growth in the region. Today, Chicago’s transportation capabilities and central location continue to be a huge asset as the world of retail becomes more and more centered around eCommerce with online sales increasing year-over-year.

The transportation of goods is a major part of the Chicago economy, with more than 350,000 people involved in Transportation and Material Moving Occupations according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This accounts for 8.1 percent of all jobs in the Chicago MSA. Among those, 92,000 employees are categorized as moving freight, stock, and material by hand.

In addition to the many pick-and-pack employees needed, employers have been increasing their real estate footprints to handle the increased number of shipments that need to go to customers in Chicago and throughout the Midwest. Over the last two years, Chicago has been the second largest creator of new warehouse / distribution space in the United States with 30.7 msf of new space. Even with the recent rapid growth, development is expected to accelerate over the coming two years as another 44.4 msf of new warehouse / distribution space is delivered to the market.

A recent Cushman & Wakefield MarketNote highlights the connection between warehouse/distribution space and employment both for Chicago and across other major U.S. industrial hubs. To read and download the MarketNote, click here.

  • Chicago

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