The region’s overall activity rose to +42 in April from +22 in March, “well above” the long-term average, the Chicago Fed said in a statement. In fact, it was considerably better than that, topping the +40 mark hit in December 2017, and highest since several months above +50 in 2014.
The manufacturing index was particularly high, at +63. Non-manufacturing was +30, but that’s still the highest mark in several years.
Hiring leapt up for lower-paying jobs, likely a reflection of the reopening of much of the restaurant and hospitality industry as COVID-19 recedes. Hiring for higher-paying jobs actually dipped in the month to -9.
On the other hand, expectations for the pace of hiring over the next 12 months increased. So did labor cost pressures, but nonlabor cost pressures decreased.
The survey is conducted of a Fed-selected panel of business executives and other officials. A “0” index reading means there is no change from long-term averages. Readings above that figure indicate faster than usual growth, and readings below 0 slower than usual growth.
UPDATE—The monthly report from the Chicago Loop Alliance also shows some reason for optimism,
The group found that parking volumes in particular are up to 87 percent of capacity, easily the highest since the onset of the pandemic. However, Metra and the CTA have been slower to recover, with the latter a bit under 40 percent of normal, not much above where it’s been for the past year.
Hotel occupancy is up to 36 percent, and more downtown employers say they’re bringing their workers back to the office. But the number of people actually in offices remains below 20 percent of normal.
Still, said alliance President Michael Edwards in a statement, “we anticipate a bustling Loop this summer.”