Cities Make Spending Adjustment to Meet Budget Demands, Improve Outlook

By Green, Herbert L., Jr. | Nation's Cities Weekly, July 11, 1994 | Go to article overview

Cities Make Spending Adjustment to Meet Budget Demands, Improve Outlook


Green, Herbert L., Jr., Nation's Cities Weekly


The most frequently identified means of coping with the fiscal environment in 1994 was slowing the rate of growth in operating budgets, identified by 63.1 percent of all cities, which was down slightly from the figures of 71.5 in 1993 and 73.4 percent in 1992 that selected this coping factor.

The next most frequently selected policy action was to reduce the city's actual capital spending levels, an action taken by 43.3 percent of all cities, also down from last year's figure of 55.4 percent. In general, these two responses appear to have been taken uniformly across the nation, regardless of the city's location or size, except that the nation's largest cities were significantly less likely to select the "reduce capital spending" option (17.1 percent).

City Employment

In response to budgetary problems, governments frequently freeze municipal employment levels or actually reduce the number of municipal employees. Approximately one-fourth of the responding cities (27.1 percent) stated that they had actually reduced municipal employment over the past 12 months, while approximately the same number (28.9 percent) said they had frozen municipal employment.

Although there was no correlation between employment policy and city size, Northeastern cities (38.9 percent) and Western cities (38.4 percent) were more likely to have frozen employment than cities in other Census regions. Southern cities were less likely to have reduced full-time employees (18.5 percent) than cities elsewhere and Western cities (36.9 percent) were more likely to have reduced full-time employment.

Statistical data were also requested on city employment patterns. Table 9 presents those responses in the categories of full-time and part-time employment. Per capita full-time employment in 1994 is expected to increase by 2.2 percent over 1993 levels, increasing from 9.1 employees per 1000 population to 9.3. This expected increase in full-time municipal employment comes after a year of no growth in full-time employment. However, part time employment is not expected to change in 1994, stabilizing at 3.2 employees per 1000 population, after an increase in 1993 of 3.2 percent.

[TABULAR DATA 9 OMITTED]

The nation's largest cities employ more full-time workers per capita (12.7 for every 1000 city residents) compared with cities under 300,000 population (which employ fewer than 10 for every 1000 city residents). The largest cities expect to increase their full-time employment by 2.4 percent in 1994, after a 0.8 percent increase in 1993. Full-time employment growth for other cities is expected to increase 1.1 percent in 1993, after practically no growth in 1993.

Part-time employment in 1993, while increasing 3.2 percent in 1993 from 3.1 to 3.2 employees per 1000 population, is expected not to increase in 1994. Only the nation's largest cities expect an increase; others show no growth.

Northeastern cities predict the most growth in full-time employment in 1994 after a decline in 1993, but a decrease of 5. …

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