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July 31, 2015 – Cities Speak (National League of Cities blog), By Christina McFarland and Emily Robbins

This is the first post in a series about NLC’s new economic analysis, Cities and Unequal Recovery, which reveals ways that cities can support and accelerate inclusive economic growth.

To better understand the specific, local-level impacts of unequal recovery and the policy implications for city leaders, we conducted the Local Economic Conditions Survey 2015. Cities and Unequal Recovery analyzes that survey and offers a place-based perspective on economic recovery from the unique vantage point of those who are held most accountable for prosperity and equity in cities: chief elected officials.

Listing of the three most positive and negative drivers of local economic conditions

Here’s what we found:

At the local level, most cities experienced either greatly improved or slightly improved conditions.

Economic conditions over the past year have improved in nearly all cities

New businesses and business expansions are widespread in cities, however, labor force challenges threaten to stymie this business growth.

Business activity is booming, but workforce skills are still lagging

The trend of increased home values is great news for local property tax rolls and for existing property owners, but bad news for the growing number of individuals that are currently priced out of the housing market.

Residential property market is improving, but availability of affordable housing is a top concern

The widening income inequality in cities is striking, and underscores the fact that local economic recovery is not taking root across the entire socioeconomic spectrum.

Retail health and other indicators of consumer confidence are improving, but the demand for basic survival needs like food and shelter is on the rise

While comebacks in key business sectors and property markets are stabilizing local economies, rising tides do not lift all boats. As cities continue to attract more residents and businesses, they are faced with the challenge of ensuring that the benefits of growth reach everyone in the community. This new local economic reality must be matched with strategies to address inequality not only as a deeply concerning social problem, but an economic one as well.


The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.