Home News US cities stand to lose $1.5 trillion in economic activity this year

US cities stand to lose $1.5 trillion in economic activity this year

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The loss amounts to a drop of 8.8% in economic output.

The average unemployment rate for 2020 is expected to be above 10% in 161 metro areas, or 42% of the total, according to the report.

“Our budgets have really been hurt, some decimated, by this pandemic,” said Louisville, Kentucky, Mayor Greg Fischer, the conference’s president. “Rising costs to deal with the pandemic and falling tax revenue have been a double whammy on cities.”

Over the second half of this year, metro economies should continue to recover some of the losses in jobs and wages from the spring — if the outbreak doesn’t continue to surge.

But the recovery will be slow, according to the report. By the first quarter of next year, metro-level employment will remain 5.2% below that of a year earlier, a loss of 7 million jobs.

The mayors’ group is using the dire economic forecast to press for more federal aid in the stimulus package that lawmakers are now crafting. And they’d like it sent directly to cities, noting that many did not receive much funding from the $150 billion in assistance sent to states and large municipalities in the coronavirus relief package passed in late March. Also, those funds can only be used to offset pandemic-related expenses, not lost revenue.

“We cannot have a strong economic recovery in the country if city, county and state governments are not operating in a robust manner,” Fischer said.

The mayors conference is a non-partisan group representing cities with more than 30,000 people, of which there are more than 1,400 in the United States.

Pleading for federal assistance

The Democratic-led House approved a bill in May that would funnel $375 billion to cities and counties and another $500 billion to states. But Senate Republicans have been reluctant to send more money to state and local governments, with some conservatives hesitant to give funds to Democrat-led states to use on pension programs and other initiatives they don’t support.

With negotiations underway on Capitol Hill, governors and county executives have also been pleading their cases this week.

The virus could hit county budgets to the tune of $202 billion through fiscal 2021, including lost revenue, additional public health expenditures and state funding cuts, according to a survey released Tuesday by the National Association of Counties.

This is forcing counties to cut or reduce services, delay or cancel infrastructure projects and lay off or furlough workers.

“America’s counties are facing immense fiscal pressure as we continue to fight this unprecedented public health and economic crisis,” said Teryn Zmuda, the association’s chief economist.

Meanwhile, states repeated their request Wednesday for $500 billion in unrestricted aid, as well as another increase in federal Medicaid matching funds.

“As states follow safe and responsible reopenings, we cannot imperil our economic recovery efforts by slashing state programs that pay our teachers, firefighters, health care and front-line workers,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican and chair of the National Governors Association chair, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat and the group’s vice chair.

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