Report: Economic recovery lags in nation’s cities
Most city leaders say the jobs picture has improved in their communities, but residential property values and other factors continue to lag, according to a new Local Economic Condition Survey by the National League of Cities (NLC). The survey results indicate that sustained economic recovery has yet to reach the local level, NLC said.
In the survey of mayors and city managers, 57 percent said unemployment in their community improved over the last six months, up from 30 percent who reported improvement in 2011. Conditions in the retail sector also improved, according to 57 percent of respondents, up from 45 percent in 2011.
Among other positive signs, 45 percent of city leaders say the level of commercial property vacancies is improving, while 43 percent note gains in business permits and licenses. Thirty-four percent of respondents also report improvement in residential property vacancies, double the 17 percent who said that in 2011. Housing starts were up in 37 percent of cities.
But only 24 percent of city leaders say residential property values improved in the last six months, while 36 percent say those property values dropped. And demand for safety net services, such as food banks and shelters, increased in 31 percent of cities, according to the survey. Cities also continue to face dwindling revenues and tight budgets, with 39 percent of city leaders saying they cut back staff in the last six months.
“Our latest numbers point to improving local economic conditions,” said Christopher Hoene, director for the Center for Research & Innovation at NLC. “But, we’re a long way from recovery. It’s clear that cities and city residents will still be confronting the impacts of this past recession for a while longer.”