Young, educated workers increasingly choosing Downtown over suburbs: report

A new survey from the Building Owners and Managers Association found businesses are following millennials back into Chicago

Illustration of the Chicago office buildings with employees (Credit: iStock)
Illustration of the Chicago office buildings with employees (Credit: iStock)

More young, educated professionals are choosing to move Downtown over the suburbs, a trend that has brought more businesses into the city as well.

The number of educated millennials living Downtown grew 15.3 percent in recent years, drawn primarily by the city’s cultural offerings, according to the latest Economic Impact Series survey by the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago, and reported by Globe St.

The survey, the fourth in 12 years, was conducted with JLL Chicago Research and queried businesses from a number of industries.

It also found the tech industry is growing the fastest in the city, in part because of a competitive wage scale: A tech firm can save $46,000 per employee annually by operating an office in Chicago rather than Silicon Valley, according to the report. A surge of new software and technology companies signing leases in River North has contributed to rising rents there.

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Some 60 percent of the respondents in the BOMA survey said the biggest draw for them to move Downtown was the ability to attract educated workers living there. Others cited access to customers (15 percent), costs, such as build-outs and property taxes, (12 percent) and branding, such as visibility or image (5 percent).

But the report also cited reasons companies don’t choose to locate in Chicago, led by dysfunctional politics. But respondents also cited high taxes — which could get even higher due to unfunded pension obligations and a new governor — and violent crime.

The surge in private sector jobs Downtown has held the office vacancy rate in check and rents on the rise, despite new inventory, a previous report found. [Globe St.]John O’Brien