Economic report shows long road to recovery for cities
The nation’s mayors got good news and bad news this week. The good news: Most cities will see job growth in 2012. The bad news: It will not be enough to push the unemployment rate below 8 percent.
The sobering news came in a report issued during the 80th Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM). The “U.S. Metro Economies” report by Lexington, Mass.-based IHS Global Insight predicts “anemic growth” for 363 metro economies and that for “almost 80 of the nation’s metro areas, it will take more than five years to get back to pre-recession levels of employment,” according to a news release. At the end of last year, 125 cities and their metro areas had not seen any net job growth, according to the report.
“The economic recovery is too slow, and it is a direct result of the inaction of this Congress in 2011,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, USCM president, told the group during its meeting in Washington Jan. 17-20. “If we gave the 112th Congress a mid-term report card, the grade would be clear. Congress would get an ‘F.’"
The report highlighted a decline in middle-class incomes, with the median real income for U.S. households dropping from $53,252 in 1999 to $49,455 in 2010. That trend hit cities hard. From 2009 to 2010, according to the report, metro area household income fell 2.2 percent while rural areas did not fall.
Villaraigosa urged the returning Congress to "make a down payment on America’s economic future by investing in our cities." He called for investing in infrastructure jobs, extending unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut, and strengthening Community Development Block Grants, the HOME Investment Partnership program and other programs for cities.
The full economic report and other news from the meeting is available on USCM's website.