Changing Workforce

The future of Chicago manufacturing? Fewer people doing more

By Melissa Harris, for Chicago Tribune

Sep 21, 2015

Mondelez International, headquartered in Deerfield, a Chicago suburb, will move some of its Oreo and other cookie production from Chicago to Mexico, resulting in 600 layoffs at its Southwest Side bakery next year and an estimated $46 million in annual savings.

Those jobs are never coming back. 

Manufacturing in Chicago is far from dead, but manufacturing as a source of widespread prosperity for low-skilled Chicagoans is. Manufacturing as a percentage of Chicago's workforce has been on an unabated 50-year decline marked by two very turbulent periods.

The first occurred in the early 1980s, when a severe recession from 1980 to 1982 combined with the oil crisis of the late '70s left much of Chicago's industrial infrastructure obsolete, according to a 1990 analysis from the Federal Reserve of Chicago.

The second occured in 2008; according to a White House news release from July, 40 percent of all large American factories closed their doors in the 2000s. America lost 5.7 million manufacturing jobs during that period, a decline of 33 percent.

Read more about the decline of manufacturing in Chicago, from steel and cars to candy and cookies.