Chicago Metropolitan Area

The Chicago-Naperville-Elgin region, also known as the Chicago metro area, is a broad and densely-populated region spanning three states and 14 counties. These include Cook, DuPage, and Lake County in Illinois; Porter and Lake County in Indiana; and Kenosha County in Wisconsin. Together, these counties create the third largest metro area in the United States, accounting for a population of approximately 9.5 million people.

As employers in and around metro regions like Chicago seek to hire the most qualified candidates for open job roles, hiring processes that take the whole region into account become critical. In an area with a heavily suburbanized landscape, many residents will choose to commute to work and may not seek employment in their counties of residence. This trend is particularly evident in the area around the city of Chicago.


A resident of Naperville, for example, may choose to commute into Chicago for work, well outside his or her residential area. Naperville is a part of two counties: Will and DuPage. When it comes to responsibly vetting such an employee, a screening process that looks only at Chicago’s Cook County could miss information held in other systems. Likewise, someone working in the Chicago area could easily have lived across the border in Wisconsin in the past. Looking at only one area could cause an employer to miss valuable information in another county or region.

Chicago applies the Illinois ban the box law to all businesses, public and private, including those with fewer than 15 employees. Only federally-exempted positions are not subject to the Chicago law.

None of the counties in this MSA in Wisconsin and Indiana have ban the box policies in place, and state-level ban the box rules in these areas apply only to certain types of employment with the state government. All three states permit consideration of conviction records at any appropriate stage of the hiring process. However, both Wisconsin and Illinois have legal provisions that ask employers to consider the relevancy of each conviction to the desired job role. Indiana does not have any such requirements.

The process a metropolitan business uses to vet potential new hires should incorporate all the locations where an individual may have lived, including surrounding counties and, in some cases, nearby states. Due to the huge population and large number of counties in the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin region, backgroundchecks.com recommends developing procedures that utilize all the sources of criminal history information in the area. Our metropolitan area background check packages all this data into one easy-to-access report.

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