Champaign County Profile

Economic Characteristics

Champaign County, with a population of almost 210,000, houses a large majority (78%) of the total population in the local workforce investment area. The median household income in the county is slightly lower than that of the workforce investment area (LWIA 17), likely due to the large number of students residing in Champaign County.

Champaign County also serves as the major employment center with almost 85 percent of the regional jobs housed within the county. As a result, the Gross Regional Product (GRP) of 11.6 billion dollars in 2017 is the largest out of the four counties in the area.

Population Characteristics

Champaign County has a comparatively low median household income, whereas the difference in family income to that of the state and nation is smaller. Household income is the sum of income of all people over 15 years living in a household, including related family members and unrelated individuals. Family income is the income of all family members 15 and over. Families are groups of two or more individuals related by birth, marriage, or adoption that reside together.

A large share of the population, both male and female, are between 20-24 years old. This pattern is typical for that of a county with a large student population.

Since 2010, Champaign County has seen steady growth in its total population, increasing from 201,081 in 2010 to 209,399 in 2017. However, during 2016 to 2017, the population has remained stable.

A majority of the county’s population (73%) is white. The second largest race group is African American, making up approximately 13 percent of the Champaign County population. There is also a significant Asian population (11%), with more than 22,000 individuals residing within the county boundaries. Overall, 12,073 (5.8 %) of the population in Champaign County is of Hispanic origin.

Educational Characteristics

Almost three-quarters (71%) of the population 25 years and over in the county has at least some college experience, and 44 percent has a bachelor’s degree or higher. However, almost 30 percent of the residents have a high school diploma or less as their highest completed education level.

Within Champaign County there are large differences in educational attainment between races. Within the white population, 52 percent have completed a college degree, while 48 percent have a high school diploma or less.

Among the African American and American Indian/Alaska Native population, a majority have a high school diploma as their highest educational attainment, and around one in three have a college degree. Eighty percent of the Asian population and 57 percent of Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and individuals identifying as two or more races have completed a college degree.

Employment Characteristics

Almost 28 percent of employed individuals in Champaign County are government workers. This
can be compared to 14 percent in the United States and 12 percent in Illinois, respectively. Most workers in the
county are hired by a private employer; however, this share is considerably higher nationally and in Illinois.

Champaign County exceeds state and national levels with its high share of workers in the management, business, science, and arts sectors.

Educational services, health care and social assistance jobs employ around 38 percent of the Champaign County workers, significantly higher than U.S. and State averages. However, there is a relatively small number of jobs in the construction and manufacturing industries in the county compared to Illinois and U.S. averages.

Unemployment Characteristics

Between 2008 and 2017, the unemployment rate in Champaign County has been lower than both state and national averages. The Champaign County unemployment rate followed the same trend after the economic recession with a peak in 2010. Since then it has steadily declined to just under four percent in 2017.

Champaign County has lower unemployment rates among all age groups compared to state and national levels. In Champaign County, individuals 16 to 19 years of age have the highest unemployment rates, while the lowest levels of unemployment are observed among individuals from 30 to 44 and those over 75 years of age.

In Champaign County, the Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander population has the lowest unemployment rate in comparison to Illinois and the U.S., whereas the American Indian and Alaska Native population has the highest rate, at 10.2 percent over the five-year period.

Unemployment rates tend to decrease with higher educational attainment. The Champaign County unemployment rates by educational attainment are similar to that of the state and nation, but with a lower unemployment rate among the working population overall. Unemployment rates tend to be higher among individuals with a disability or those living below the poverty level, depicted in Table 11.

Unemployment rates tend to be higher among individuals with a disability or those living below the poverty level. At the county, state, and national levels the unemployment rate is more than twice as high among those living below the poverty level compared to the general population. However, the unemployment rate for this population in Champaign County is much lower than that of Illinois and the U.S. Among the population with a disability, unemployment rates are approximately 15 percent, which is significantly higher than unemployment rates for the overall population over 16 years of age.

Commuting Characteristics

In 2015, 80,312 Champaign County residents were employed, while the total number of employed individuals working in the county was 89,984. Champaign County has a higher number of employees working in the county than the number of employed individuals living in the county. Most of the county’s residents work within the county, but more than a third of the workforce (36%) commute from another county.

Based on U.S. Census Bureau, Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics, 2015.

  • 32,170 – Employed in Champaign County, Live Outside
  • 57,814 – Employed in and Live in Champaign County
  • 22,498 – Live in Champaign County, Employed Outside

Industry Characteristics

Government is by far the largest industry in the county, including the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as well as government agencies. This is true both in the number of jobs but also in relative concentration compared to national averages.

The government location quotient of 1.94 is considerably higher than that of the second-largest industry: health care and social assistance. Jobs in retail trade and manufacturing also employ many workers in the county, but have seen a decrease between 2007 and 2017. The manufacturing industry especially has seen a negative trend, dropping by more than 2,300 jobs in 10 years. Many of the industries that employ fewer individuals also saw decreases across the time period, resulting in a slight decline in the total number of jobs in 2017 compared to 2007.

The largest change in the number of jobs is seen among food preparation and serving workers, growing with 342 jobs (18 %). Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs are the job titles seeing the greatest percent growth in the county, growing with 60 jobs (49 %).

State and local government are the largest employers in Champaign County, with more than 33,000 total employees. State and local government is also the largest in terms of payroll and output, with a payroll of more than 790 million dollars in 2016.

The largest industry is lessors of nonfinancial intangible assets, a real estate and rental subsector with annual sales exceeding 4.5 billion dollars in 2017. Education and hospitals, as well as the federal government industries also have total annual sales worth more than 1 billion dollars. The three largest NAICS industries have a vast majority of their total sales occurring outside the county, while many of the smaller industries have a higher ratio of sales within the county.

Largest Business in Champaign County

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were more than 4,100 establishments in Champaign County in 2016. An establishment is a single physical location at which business is conducted or where services or industrial operations are performed. The University of Illinois employs by far the most workers, with 14,817 employees. Carle Foundation Hospital is also a major employer, with 6,438 individuals working in Champaign County.

Most businesses in Champaign County have between one and four employees, accounting for almost 48 percent of the total establishments in the county. There are also a relatively large share of companies with between five and 19 employees. The share of businesses that each employ more than 250 individuals is less than one percent, and only 18 businesses have more than 500 employees.

Project Employment Change Per Industry

The largest percentage changes are expected to occur within the “Unclassified Industry” category, usually consisting of newer businesses that have not yet reported a NAICS code. In terms of actual jobs, the health care sector is expected to add the most employment, with an increase of more than 2,100 jobs. Retail and wholesale trade as well as manufacturing jobs in the county are projected to see a decline over the time period. Overall, the total number of jobs county-wide is projected to grow by about three percent, an increase of 3,396 jobs over a 10-year period.

Occupational Characteristics

Champaign and Urbana were the two cities with the greatest number of unique job postings in Champaign County between April 2017 and April 2018. Champaign had the most job postings, with more than 23,000 positions for hire over a 12-month period.

The University of Illinois was the major institution posting jobs in the county, followed by the freight company CRST International and Carle Foundation Hospital.

The three most common job titles in demand in Champaign County between April 2017 and April 2018 were truck drivers, nurses, and postsecondary teachers. There was also a high demand for retail workers and supervisors of retail workers.

Management was desired in 19 percent of the job postings and was the most frequently mentioned skill. Sales, customer service, and communication skills were also in high demand, appearing in between 12 and 14 percent of the job postings county-wide.

A commercial driver’s license (CDL) was the most common qualification requested in job postings from April 2017 to April 2018. There were also many postings seeking various nursing qualifications, the most common being registered nurses with 2,534 postings.