Air Force One touched down at O'Hare Airport around 4:40 p.m. The president will spend the night at his home on the city's South Side. The first lady and their daughters will not be joining him for this visit.
His first event -- a reception with about 350 people with tickets starting at $2,500 -- was scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. at Chicago's Cultural Center in the Loop. He will also attend two dinners at private homes in the city. The Obama campaign says tickets for the dinners are $35,800 per person. All the proceeds go to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee of Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties.
The president arrived at the day's first stop in Minnesota shortly after the Labor Department released its dismal jobs report for May. The economy created only 69,000 jobs, not half of the targeted 150,000.
During his first appearance on the ground, Mr. Obama acknowledged the report while predicting better days ahead.
"Our businesses have created almost 4.3 million new jobs over the last 27 months, but as we learned in today's jobs report, we're still not creating them as fast as we want," he said. "We will come back stronger, we do have better days ahead, and that is because of all of you."
The unemployment also ticked up a tenth of a point to 8.2 percent. No president since Franklin Roosevelt has sought re-election with a jobless rate as high.
Republican Mitt Romney, appearing on CNBC Friday morning, called unemployment a "harsh indictment" of Obama administration policies.
"Their policies have made it harder for the economy to recover," Romney said. "I think that's one of the reasons people are looking for a new direction."
Bad news for the president, politically, is good news for Republicans. At the party's downtown headquarters, workers phone banked, trying to motivate locate the voters who will support Romney against the Democratic incumbent.
"Three and a half years into the president's term in office and unemployment's actually getting worse," said Pat Brady, Illinois Republican Party chairman. "We're slipping back into the recession. So it's been a miserable failure."
But political science Professor Dick Simpson says if unemployment does not worsen, Obama will benefit.
"I think as long as the jobless rate is well below or at 8 percent come November and the economy is still recovering, even slowly, that will advantage Obama," said Simpson.
Security tight around Obama's Kenwood home
The president has not spent a lot time at his South Side since he was elected. When he does return, his visit creates quite a buzz in the Kenwood and Hyde Park neighborhoods.
Concrete barricades, Chicago police, and Secret Service surround Obama's home 24 hours a day. But when he is spending time there, security gets even tighter. Because of the chaos it can cause, President Obama hasn't stayed there in many months.
Neighbor Renita Jones has been living near the president for two years now and is used to being in a heavily guarded area.
"He needs the security, I would expect no less for our president," Jones told ABC7. "It's a little annoying that instead of coming straight up the boulevard, you have to go around, but it's not really a big deal."
Members of the KAM Isaiah Israel Congregation, a synagogue across the street from the president's home, have developed a working relationship with the Secret Service. Some members are even friends with the first family. Services on Friday will coincide with the president's stay at home.
"We work with the Secret Service to enable that our membership and our guests have access to the building whenever we have activities going on regardless of whether or not is physically in residence," said Tal Rosen, former director KAM Isaiah Israel Congregation.
But Noel Morical, a dog walker, isn't used to all of security. Walking Luke the dog Friday has been a bit of a challenge.
"I just have to be a little more aware of where I'm walking, so I don't have to clash with security," she said.
Luke's owner lives in the neighborhood and warned Morical about the potential headache.
"You just have to be more prepared, and luckily my boss is kind enough to provide me with information on the best roads to take what areas to avoid," Morical said.
The security perimeter is about three blocks long but as the president makes his way home Friday night, it is expected to widen. Residents must show their ID to Secret Service agents to pass through the barricades.