Illinois' Share of High-Tech Businesses is Among the Nation's Top States

October 10, 2014 / By  / Category 2014IT/Computer SciencesJobsManufacturingTheme: Business Climate

The 2014 Quarter 3 Report of the Illinois Innovation Index is now available: Innovation Index 2014 Quarter 3 Report

Table of contents

  1. Concentration of high-tech establishments

  2. Chicago’s tech job growth

  3. Definition of high-tech industries


With almost 400,000 businesses and an employment base of more than 5.7 million.1  Illinois leads the Midwest in volume of both companies and jobs. As discussed in the April 2014 issue of the Index, high-tech employment is on the rise in Illinois. This growth is an indication of the shifting distribution of employment by industry; in the coming years, an increasing percentage of job creation will likely be in innovative sectors driven by science and technology. In Illinois, the share of establishments in high-tech industries is on the rise.

Key findings

  • With 5.28 percent of all establishments ascribed to high-tech industries, Illinois ranks third among most populous states by concentration of high-tech establishments.
  • The number of jobs at tech companies in Chicago grew 19.3 percent from 2011 to 2013—faster than Seattle, Raleigh-Durham, and Boston. Online job postings related to high-tech industries in Illinois grew
  • 23.8 percent from August 2013 to August 2014, reaching its highest level since 2010.

Looking forward

Chicago and the State of Illinois face a two-pronged challenge in supporting the innovation economy: first, continue to promote STEM fields, and second, find ways to keep graduates as a whole (and STEM graduates in particular) in the state. While individuals might choose to consider other locations for a variety of reasons—job opportunities in specific fields, a desire for a different setting, better year-round climates—Illinois and Chicago have a valuable advantage: these students are already familiar with the region’s unique strengths. To gain new ground in innovation-intensive sectors, the state must continue to create new and exciting opportunities for graduates.

Chicago and other cities across the country are struggling to meet the high demand for STEM talent, meaning that competition for these graduates will likely remain fierce. A report from the Brookings Institution found that jobs requiring a STEM bachelor’s degree in Chicago typically took 44 days to fill compared with 41 days for positions in other fields. The shortage of talent was even more pronounced in tech centers on the West Coast: San Jose and San Francisco took an average of 59 and 56 days, respectively, to fill professional STEM jobs.

In the coming years, the Index will share updated data to monitor progress in STEM attainment and talent attraction and retention.

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