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Report: Chicago’s Unemployment Rate Shrinking Fastest, But Still Nation’s 3rd Worst

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Job seekers wait in line for a job fair June 4, 2009 in Chicago. (Credit: Scott Olson / Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A new report touted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel says Chicago’s unemployment rate is shrinking faster than that of any major city – even though it is still the third highest in the nation.

The report by University of Chicago economist and former Council of Economic Advisers chairman Austan Goolsbee said since May 2011, Chicago has had the fastest improvement among large cities in both unemployment rates and unemployment ratio.

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The unemployment rate in Chicago fell more last year – 1.7 percentage points from 11.5 percent to 9.8 percent – than any comparable city between May 2011 and May 2012, the study said.

Following behind Chicago were San Jose, Calif., where the unemployment rate dropped 1.5 percent; Houston, 1.1 percent; and Phoenix and Los Angeles, 1 percent even.

But even with that trend, Chicago still has the third highest unemployment rate on the list, as was also the case in 2011. The rate is only higher in Philadelphia, with 10.1 percent, and Los Angeles, with 12.2 percent.

The report pointed out that between 2008 and 2011, the trend was going in the opposite direction. The unemployment rate rose 4.6 percent in that period – from 6.9 percent to 11.5 percent.

The only city that fared worse during that period was Los Angeles, where the unemployment rate rose 5.8 percent.

The report acknowledged that the unemployment rate fails to count people who stop looking for work. But even accounting for such people, Chicago’s unemployment rate is still improving, the report says.

In absolute numbers, number of unemployed people dropped by almost 20,000 during the past year, and the number of employed people rose by almost 28,000, the report said. The job creation rate outstrips every major city in America except for Houston which has windshield repair katy companies, while the reduction in unemployment exceeds every city except Los Angeles, the report said.

But the report concedes that it does not take into account changes in the cities’ populations for those figures.

The report added that the employment ratio – the percent change in the share of the city’s population that is employed, is up 2.1 percent – better than any major city.

“While the last year was a challenging economic environment across the board, the major cities in the United States did show improvement in their job markets. Chicago stood out among those cities, however, as having the most rapid improvement in its job market of all the big cities,” the report said.

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