Chicago City Profile: Economic Performance, Brand Strength, Reputation

Chicago: how well does the “Windy City” perform in international rankings that study the competitiveness of cities in terms of attractiveness for talent, innovation, and business? Does Chicago have a chance at beating its national rivals New York and San Francisco thanks to its cultural offering? How well does the city do in terms of sustainability?

Let’s explore deeper how Chicago positions itself on the world stage, drawing insights from data provided by TPBO partners and other reputable institutions.

Let’s take a closer look at:

  • Chicago’s competitiveness and financial performance
  • Chicago’s brand strength and global attractiveness
  • Livability: Chicago’s appeal for digital nomads and locals

Chicago’s competitiveness and financial performance

How attractive is Chicago as a place to work and do business? 

The Global Financial Centres Index 34 ranks Chicago 9th, falling one position from the previous ranking. It is currently sitting between Washington DC (8th) and Geneva (10th). The city holds a strong standing in the following areas of competitiveness: Human Capital (11th), Reputational & General (11th), Financial Sector Development (15th), and Business Environment (15th). It also performs very well in the following industry sectors: Fintech (9th), Professional Services (12th), Government & Regulatory (13th), Finance (13th), Trading (13th), Investment Management (11th), Banking (13th). Chicago holds the fifth place in the North American region, sitting right behind New York City.

According to 2thinknow’s Innovation Cities Index 2022-2023 Chicago ranks 12th, a drop of three positions from the previous ranking. The city now sits in between Berlin (11th) and Stockholm (13th).


Chicago’s brand strength and global attractiveness

Which subfactors hurt and help the brand of Chicago? 

Resonance’s 2023 World’s Best Cities Report ranks Chicago 16th, scoring the following in the Place Power Highlights: 1st in Walk Score, and 7th in Airport Connectivity. It currently sits in between Los Angeles (15th) and Washington DC (17th).

Kearney’s 2023 Global Cities Report ranks Chicago 11th, falling four positions compared to last years’ publication. Chicago ranked 43rd in the Global Cities Outlook, when last year it held the 53rd position.

The comprehensive ranking of the Global Power City Index ranks Chicago 25th. In terms of function-specific rankings, the city ranks 22nd in terms of Economy, 8th in R&D, 28th in Cultural Interaction, 46th in Livability, 34th in Environment, and 15th in Accessibility. Admirably, Chicago ranks 8th in terms of most award winners in Science and Technology. Lastly, Chicago positioned 27th in the Highly-skilled Workers, 26th in the Corporate executive, 40th in the Resident and 33rd in the Tourism categories.

According to Brand Finance’s City Index 2023, Chicago ranks 15th in the global ranking with a score of 72.2/100, sitting in between Rome (14th) and Melbourne (16th).


Livability: Chicago’s appeal for digital nomads and locals

Which aspects of Chicago’s urban living make it an attractive place to live, work and study?

The Mercer Quality of Living City Ranking places Chicago 65th tying with Philadelphia. The Mercer Cost of Living Ranking ranks Chicago 24th in between Washington DC (23rd) and Vienna (25th). The cost living survey reports that factors such as currency fluctuations, cost inflation for goods and services, and instability of accommodation prices are key to determine the cost of expat packages for employees on international assignment.

According to the Best Urban Cities for Digital Nomads ranking by Spot a Home, Chicago ranks 24th out of 56 global cities. It currently sits between Buenos Aires (23rd) and Dublin (25th).

The Arcadis Sustainability City Index 2022 ranks Chicago 52nd overall, sitting in between Milan (51st) and Atlanta (53rd). Chicago’s pillar rankings are the following: Planet 67th, People 70th, Profit 8th.

According to The Times Higher Education ranking, the University of Chicago is the 13th best university in the world. The QS World University ranking positions the University of Chicago 11th.


Last updated in January 2024. More city profiles here.


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