Survey Shows Worsening Economic Conditions for Cities: But Many of the Cities in the NLC Survey Show Improved Security Preparedness and Efficiency

Article excerpt

The National League of Cities "State of America's Cities" survey shows that a number of conditions are worsening in a large segment of the 345 cities and towns surveyed by the League in January and February.

Many cities also reported improvements in several areas such as the vitality of their downtowns, increased efficiency in service delivery, and preparedness for emergencies and homeland security.

The 345 respondents in the survey reflect a nationally representative sample.

Preliminary findings from the survey were shared with members of the House of Representatives at a Capitol Hill briefing last week.

Economic and Fiscal Conditions

Responses from the surveyed cities and towns indicate that both overall economic conditions and city fiscal conditions have worsened over the past year for far more cities than those reporting improvement.

* Overall economic conditions worsened in 40 percent of cities, compared to 26 percent that said conditions improved (32 percent reported no change).

* 44 percent say their cities' fiscal conditions have worsened, compared to 22 percent that said they have improved (32 percent said no change).

* Worsening unemployment was reported by 45 percent of surveyed cities and towns, compared to 18 percent reporting improvement (32 percent said no change).

Unfunded Mandates and Health Care Costs

In the survey, two issues emerged as problems among more than half the cities.

* Two out of three (65 percent) of all respondents say the effects of unfunded federal mandates and preemptions of local authority have worsened over the past year, while only 1 percent reported improvement (31 percent said no change). …