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One of the reasons Chicago has such a healthy economy is its ability to diversify. There’s not just one chief industry that defines the city, instead it is spread out between many different lines of work that create a stable and thriving market balance. The gross metropolitan product for Chicago is over $440 billion annually – the third highest in the United States.

Chicago is well known as a powerful business center featuring Fortune 500 companies such as Aon, Boeing, Bank One Corporation, Tribune, Quaker Oats, Exelon, Sara Lee and many others. The headquarters of several global corporations are located in the Chicagoland area, including McDonald’s, Kraft Foods, Walgreens and Sears. The Windy City is also a Midwest hub for banking and finance. In fact, one of the Federal Reserve Banks in situated here, as is the Chicago Stock Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade which merged with Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 2007 to become the CME Group.

Chicago also has a prominent advertising industry, headed up by internationally acclaimed agencies like Leo Burnett, Foote Cone & Belding, Ogilvy & Mather, DDB and BBDO. And, because of the city’s historical attachment to revolutionary architectural engineering (the skyscraper was invented here) real estate and development continue to be large contributors to Chicago’s economic base. A sizeable manufacturing industry is left over from the 19th century meat-packing days and subsequent production plants that attracted countless laborers and immigrant workers to the region.

Tourism and transportation also generate a considerable income for the city with combined domestic and international traveler expenditures totaling more than $615 million in tax revenue per year. As a main axis for the nation’s railroad system in the 1800s, Chicago is still a major transit hub for passenger train traffic and with two world-class airports air travel has become one of the city’s most important businesses. Chicago offers visitors such a wide array of attractions, from professional sports to historic museums to Navy Pier, that it has no trouble appealing to a broad scope of interests. In a single 12-month period, the city welcomes close to 33 million visitors who come to Chicago just for fun!

On the home front, the average per capita income for Chicago residents is $24,219 and the median household income is $43,223. About a third of people make their living through management and professional occupations or related jobs. Service, production, transportation and material moving occupations make up another third of the workforce in Chicago and sales and office positions are also quite popular.