As the 2020 election puts our nation’s priorities into focus, America’s mayors, representing over 85 percent of the U.S. population, call for all presidential and congressional candidates to recognize and respect the important role cities play in shaping America’s future.

Cities bring diverse people together, drive sustainable economic growth, promote healthy families, create a positive culture, and spur life changing innovation. They are the center of American life.

The Mayors’ 2020 Vision for America: A Call to Action, drafted by The U.S. Conference of Mayors, outlines 12 strategic priorities that will improve the standard of living and quality of life for all U.S. residents in 2020 and beyond.

Our nation’s cities matter more today than ever before. Why? Because cities and their metropolitan areas dominate U.S. economic growth and continue to drive our economy. It is simply impossible to maintain a healthy economy without maintaining healthy cities.

  • Cities are the Center of the U.S. Population. They represent 86 percent of the nation’s population and 91 percent of real gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Cities are Home to More Jobs and More Job Creation. The U.S. Metro/City share of total employment increased to 88 percent in 2018, as metros added 2.1 million jobs, accounting for 94 percent of all U.S. job gains.
  • Cities are Home to the Highest Share of Personal Income. The metro share of U.S. total personal income stands at 89 percent and wage income at 92 percent.
  • Cities are the Incubators of Talent. The best and brightest talent is flocking to cities because they prefer the accessibility, diversity, infrastructure and vibrancy that cities provide, and they want to be where innovation thrives.

But despite the economic growth over the past 10 years, many residents still lack opportunity, fear for their safety, and feel disconnected from their broader community and their country. These concerns extend to hardworking middle class families who feel their economic security threatened.

The questions many Americans ask remain:

  • “What does the future of our country look like?”
  • “What’s the economic future of the middle class?
  • “How do we help lift up those living in poverty through education, skills and training?”
  • “How do we help workers transition to a new economy of technology, automation and innovation?”
  • “How do we make sure that a growing economy benefits all – including those most at-risk?”
  • “Will the next generation have a better quality of life than I did?”

Across our country, too many Americans feel forgotten or ignored. Too many have not benefited from the recovery,

are underemployed, or are saddled with student loan debt beyond their ability to pay. Economic forecasters project that income inequality will remain a long-term problem that will worsen unless addressed through national leadership.

The challenges are serious, but solvable.

The United States Conference of Mayors: Supporting, Protecting and Advocating for America’s Cities and Their Residents

As the leading voice of America’s cities, The U.S Conference of Mayors is uniquely qualified to recommend a strategic vision for America. Since its founding in 1932, the Conference remains the place where America’s mayors – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike – come together in a collegial, cooperative, bipartisan manner to get things done.

The mayors of cities of all sizes, across all regions and all manner of demographic and socio-economic composition, are working side-by-side to solve problems, improve conditions, and create and catalyze positive change for the people we all serve.

Our Mayors’ 2020 Vision for America: A Call to Action platform of 12 priorities is organized under the Conference’s bipartisan focus on Infrastructure, Innovation and Inclusion. Together they represent a positive way forward.

Our intentional focus on the Three I’s – Infrastructure, Innovation and Inclusion – is fundamental to the advancement of every city in America. The pages that follow provide substantive background on each of our 12 priorities, along with specific action steps for each.

The 2020 Election: The Need for Partnership and Action

The 2020 Election must be about solidifying the partnership between the federal government and America’s communities to better serve the American people. Sitting on the sidelines is not an option. The federal government must be an engaged, active, and collaborative partner. People need to hear how all candidates are going to address the future, embrace change and work together to address our common challenges from Maine to California.

Yet, in the midst of challenges and opportunities, our partnership with the federal government is threatened by dysfunction in Washington that must be addressed.

In particular, Washington has ignored the national affordable housing crisis, has inadequately addressed immigration reform, and has underfunded programs for distressed neighborhoods. It has also failed to address climate change, has not developed a comprehensive approach to public safety, and has struggled to find the ways and means to fund our federal government responsibly.

America needs a federal government that works with its cities and metro areas today on an agenda for the American people – an agenda that is needed for future generations.

In fact, The U.S. Conference of Mayors was founded on a strong partnership and common agenda with the federal government. Throughout its history, our collaborative efforts have helped to deliver cities from the Great Depression and recessions, have contributed significantly to building America’s infrastructure and have been key to social and economic development initiatives that have stimulated job creation and incentivize long-term investments in our neighborhoods. In each of these cases, cities have magnified federal efforts in creative, innovative and sustainable ways and we vow to continue to do so with the federal government’s support and partnership.

Our Invitation

We’re starting the conversation by offering our strategic platform, the Mayors’ 2020 Vision for America: A Call to Action. While it is comprehensive, we welcome all presidential and congressional candidates to outline their vision for strengthening our nation’s cities and metro areas with a platform that allows all residents to thrive.

We look forward to a positive and productive partnership with those elected in 2020 as we work together to move America’s cities and our nation forward.

Sources for Economic and Demographic Data: U.S. Metro Economies, GMP and Employment 2019-2020; HIS 88 Markit; USCM


Focused on: Infrastructure, Innovation, & Inclusion

A PDF version of this report is also availble.

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