An article I posted about earlier in the week included this statistic:
Downtown Chicago accounts for 17% of jobs in the six-county region, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security…
But most of the region’s jobs — almost 3 million — are outside of downtown and may require more complicated commutes. More than 400,000 people commute every day from Chicago to jobs in the suburbs, according to the Regional Transportation Authority
This 17% is still a sizable percentage of jobs within the region. Put those jobs together with other economic resources, cultural opportunities, political resources, and historical inertia and the Loop is still a center of the region.
But, this also suggests 83% of the jobs in the region are outside Chicago’s downtown. Many Chicagoland residents do not need to go near downtown for work. Many commutes are suburb to suburb. As the second paragraph above notes, even hundreds of thousands of Chicago residents travel from the center to the suburbs for work.
At the least, such numbers should help us reconceptualize cities, suburbs, and regions. The varied pieces within a region are interdependent. Problems need to be solved across communities and taxing bodies. Celebrations take place across the region. The problems of either cities or suburbs are not only theirs to address. The communities are competing against other regions more than each other.