Chicago, Portland: Employment Dispersion from Downtown Continues

New data shows that the downtown areas of both Chicago and Portland (Oregon) are modestly dispersing and losing market share in relation to metropolitan area employment.

Chicago: The Chicago Loop Alliance reports that private sector employment in the Loop, the core of the Chicago downtown area, fell from 338,000 to 275,000 between 2000 and 2010. An additional 30,000 government workers are employed in the Loop, however 2000 data was not provided for the government sector. As a result of the loss, the Loop private sector share of total Chicago metropolitan area employment fell 13 percent, from 7.7 percent in 2000 to 6.7 percent in 2010.

The larger downtown area, including areas to the north (North Michigan Avenue area) and to the south had total private sector employment of 480,000. Chicago had the second largest downtown (central business district) in the nation in 2000, with an employment density of more than 160,000 per square mile and a transit work trip market share of 55 percent, trailing only the Manhattan business district (south of 59 Street) and the Brooklyn central business district).

Portland: The Portland Business Alliance reported that downtown Portland employment had fallen from 86,800 in 2001 to 83,400 in 2009. This represents a four percent market share loss in comparison to the metropolitan area over the period. All of Portland’s growth over the period has been in suburban Clark and Skamania counties in Washington, which added 12,700 jobs, while the Oregon portion of the metropolitan area was losing 4,500 jobs.

In 2000, Portland had the nation’s 22nd largest central business district, and the 12th highest transit work trip market share, at 30 percent (Brooklyn included).