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New JPMorgan Chase Institute Research Shows South and West Side Chicagoans Travel Twice as Far for Everyday Goods

Businesses in North Side neighborhoods have cash buffers three times larger than South and West Side businesses

March 6, 2018 (Chicago, Ill.) – The JPMorgan Chase Institute today released new research that reveals Chicago residents on the South and West Sides travel more than twice as far than those on the North Side to purchase groceries and other everyday goods and services. Further, businesses in North Side neighborhoods have cash buffers as much as three times larger than South and West Side businesses, which are a key metric for business resilience. The report builds on previous research released, which examined residents’ access to retail goods and services across Detroit and New York neighborhoods, to help local policymakers better understand the economic vitality of neighborhoods and where to make future investments in efforts create inclusive growth.

This new report, The Commercial Vibrancy of Chicago Neighborhoods, focuses on locations where residents shop, including small businesses, and provides a unique view into how far residents must travel to receive goods and services. Small businesses and neighborhood resiliency are critically important to Chicago’s economic well-being, with businesses with fewer than 250 employees providing 58 percent of jobs for Chicago residents and 70 percent of jobs in Chicago’s inner city neighborhoods.

“Chicago’s economy is strong, but not all neighborhoods reflect that strength equally, and these differences potentially place added burdens on the residents who can afford it least,” said Diana Farrell, President and CEO, JPMorgan Chase Institute. “As city leaders, the private sector and non-profit organizations make community investments, these data provide a roadmap for creating more equitable growth, identifying in granular detail the neighborhoods and zip codes that may benefit from community investments and affordable retail options."

Distance Travelled

  • In the South Shore and Pullman neighborhoods on the South Side, residents traveled 4.9 and 4.6 miles, respectively, from home for the typical purchase, while residents in the North Side’s West Ridge and North Park traveled 1.9 and 1.6 miles.

Merchant Types

  • Differences among neighborhoods transcend merchant types—including grocery stores and restaurants. Residents in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood typically travel 1.4 miles to eat at restaurants, while residents of Hegewisch and South Chicago eat at restaurants 6 miles from home.

Neighborhood Incomes

  • Merchant distances are also distinct among income groups across neighborhoods, revealing greater accessibility in North Side neighborhoods. In the North Side West Ridge, Rogers Park and Lincoln Park neighborhoods, merchant distances were exactly the same for high- and low-income earners. High-income earners in the South and West Sides are more likely to travel longer distances for goods and services than their lower-income neighbors. High-income earners in the South Chicago neighborhood traveled a median of 5.9 miles, while low-income residents traveled 4.5 miles.

Small Business Financial Health

  • Small business cash liquidity challenges threatens to limit the economic vibrancy of some Chicago neighborhoods. The research shows that the financial pictures for South and West Side small businesses are much more financially precarious than their counterparts in North Chicago.
  • Businesses in the Englewood neighborhood have the smallest cash reserves, allowing for 5 or fewer cash buffer days, while businesses in Buena Park, on the North Side, have more than three times those cash reserves, providing a buffer of at least 17 days were they to face an unexpected cash shortfall.

Click here to read the report.


About the JPMorgan Chase Institute
The JPMorgan Chase Institute is a global think tank dedicated to delivering data-rich analyses and expert insights for the public good. Its aim is to help decision makers–policymakers, businesses, and nonprofit leaders–appreciate the scale, granularity, diversity, and interconnectedness of the global economic system and use better facts, timely data, and thoughtful analysis to make smarter decisions to advance global prosperity. Drawing on JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s unique proprietary data, expertise, and market access, the Institute develops analyses and insights on the inner workings of the global economy, frames critical problems, and convenes stakeholders and leading thinkers. For more information visit: JPMorganChaseInstitute.com