"Devastating" losses of industrial jobs, federal funds and brains drained away to Sun Belt states since 1960 threaten to bring Chicago to its economic knees, according to a blunt new report by alarmed civic leaders here.
The future promises only spiraling unemployment, accelerated departures by surviving industries and declining tax revenues unless area communities work to attract new business, asserts the report, called "Jobs for Metropolitan Chicago."
The survey offers what likely is the bleakest analysis since the U.S. industrial recession began in the late 1970s of ills plaguing this metropolitan area, once reassuringly known as "the city that works." The report was assembled over the last two years by more than 300 local business, university and government leaders.
"The good news is that we understand the problem," said Donald Perkins, former chairman of Jewel Companies Inc., who headed the effort. The report does not deal with such issues as public safety, education, housing, race relations or the acrimonious politics dividing Mayor Harold Washington and a majority-white City Council.
"As businessmen, we have expertise in certain areas, and we're going to go out and get jobs," Perkins said.
The report highlights plenty of bad news for a city on an unremitting slide into economic doldrums since before the recession.
"Metropolitan Chicago has been walking while much of the country has been running," the report says. "One must look back 30 years to find a time when the area's job-growth rate consistently matched. . . the rest of the U.S."
At best, the survey says, "we are losing our share of the national job market. At worst, we are experiencing a serious economic decline and erosion of our tax base. Nothing suggests that these trends will be reversed by themselves . . . . Our problems are pervasive . . . . "
Among the findings:
* Between 1960 and 1982, metropolitan Chicago's total manufacturing jobs declined 20 percent, while such jobs grew nationally 12 percent. Transportation, utilities and construction jobs dropped 10 percent here; nationally, they grew 30 percent.
* With the U.S. economy shifting from industrial to service-based, service jobs nationally grew 158 percent since 1960; here, they increased 92 percent.
* Among the nation's 14 largest metropolitan areas, Chicago ranked 12th in overall job gains during that period.
* Illinois ranks atop the 50 states in sending more tax revenue to Washington than it receives in federal dollars. In 1982, this "net outflow" was $12.5 billion; last year, it was $8.5 billion.
Since 1976, the state has sent $55.5 billion more to Washington than it has received. Much of the federal aid here involves welfare, Social Security and farm subsidies that "contribute little to stimulating job growth," the leaders said.
"More than half" of University of Illinois engineering graduates "find their first jobs out of state," and a similar situation exists among graduates of Northwestern University, a prominent private institution.
"So again, Chicagoland residents are supporting through their taxes and contributions the knowledge required to invigorate the economic 'greenhouses' that nurture growth in California, Texas and elsewhere ," the report says.
At the same time, the report found little cooperative town-gown spirit in assembling the kind of high-technology industrial complexes that have grown up around such university towns as Boston and San Francisco. Chicago, the report says, "has fallen short of employing. . . knowledge to best advantage."
Many of these conclusions support what numerous other surveys have reported. But the businessmen were surprised to learn that jobs in the city's financial industries have grown relatively little despite rapid growth of trading boards and exchanges.
Although area financial managers handled 15 percent of the nation's venture-capital pool in 1982, just 3 percent of the total was invested in new businesses or entrepreneurial efforts here.