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Illinois: The Prairie State is Home to Many of the Largest U.S. Corporations

Sept. 7, 2012
Investing, Investments
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Illinois is the twenty-fifth state in terms of size, but you’d never know it considering that the state is home to thirty of the largest corporations in the U.S.

In addition, executives of companies in Illinois have some of the highest compensation packages in the country.  Amongst CEOs of S&P500 companies in Illinois, the average total pay for 2011 was $13.3 million.


Most of the corporations that are headquartered in Illinois are located around the Chicago Metropolitan Area in the North-East region of the state. From this region we get such corporate giants as Walgreen’s, Boeing, and McDonald’s. It’s also home to Motorola Solutions, whose CEO, Gregory Brown, brought home over $29 million last year in compensation.

However, as you get farther away from the city, you still find plenty of household names. Peoria is home to one of the state’s largest manufacturers, Caterpillar, Inc. Their CEO, Douglas Oberhelman, listed the benefits of being headquartered in Illinois, “A central location; a great city, Chicago; a deep educational base; and… a relatively attractive tax rate.”


City Number of S&P500 Companies Company with Highest Income in 2011 Pre-Tax Income for 2011 (in millions)
Chicago 9 Boeing Co. $5,393
Deerfield 4 Walgreen’s $4,294
Lake Forest 3 W.W. Grainger, Inc. $1,052
Oak Brook 1 McDonald’s $8,012
Peoria 1 Caterpillar, Inc. $6,725



There are a large variety of industries represented in the S&P500 Index, and the Illinois-based corporations reflect that. Producers of industrial and farm equipment had the highest numbers, followed by producers of food for people and animals.This was quite interesting because, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, only 598,200 people are employed in Illinois’ manufacturing industry.

On the other hand, the trade, transportation, and utilities industry employs the greatest number of non-farm workers, with over 1.1 million. Yet, there were only two S&P500 companies representing this segment: the Exelon Corporation and Integrys Energy Group.

Below are the current employment figures for the five non-farm industries with the most workers in Illinois:


Industry Current Employment (Seasonally Adjusted)
Trade, Transportation, & Utilities 1,136,200
Professional and Business Services 855,800
Educational and Health Services 853,500
Government 820,400
Manufacturing 598,200


The Land of Lincoln

So, what can we say about the great state of Illinois?

There was some doubt recently as to the state’s financial health, when lawmakers had to raise taxes by 66% in order to help with the budget crisis.

But, before getting anxious, let’s look at the numbers. Though Illinois is the twenty-fifth state in size, it is fifth in populati0n. Additionally, the median household income is approximately $53,000 while the median U.S. household income is just $50,000.

Illinois also is known for being on the most most reliable states for electricity. It is the largest producer of nuclear power in the U.S. and has comparatively few power interruptions. These are all factors which are attractive to businesses and citizens alike, and will help Illinois push through rough times.


All data was collected using the 2011 SEC filings of Illinois corporations that are currently included in the S&P500 index. For more information, please visit NerdWallet’s Corporate Tax Tool. All employment figures were provided by the Illinois Department of Employment Security.