Findings Highlight the Need for Congress to Address the Fiscal Crisis Facing Cities of All Sizes

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the top leaders of the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) and the National League of Cities (NLC) released findings of a survey that reported nearly nine in 10 cities expect a budget shortfall due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their economies. The findings, drawn from responses of more than 2,400 cities, reveal that without federal support, many will be forced to furlough or lay off city employees and cut back on critical services. The survey found:

  • 88% of cities expect a revenue shortfall this year as a result of COVID-19.
  • For cities with populations of 50,000 to 500,000, 98% expect a shortfall.
  • For that same population set, 55% reported they expect that furloughing employees will be necessary.
  • 38% of these cities say they expect to lay off workers.
  • 52% of all cities responding say budget cuts will impact police and public safety.

For more survey findings, click here.

In the latest rescue package, passed by Congress last month, only cities with populations above 500,000 are eligible for direct funding under the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund, the largest and most flexible assistance to state and local government in the package.  This threshold means that only 36 American cities can access the aid, leaving all the rest without this direct federal support.

“These numbers reveal the enormous economic challenges that cities, large and small, are facing and the consequences for city workers and the critical services they provide. Cities will have to make painful decisions that will affect real people’s lives and the safety and well-being of their communities if Congress does not help. Every city in America is working around the clock to fight this virus and protect its residents, and every city should be eligible for funds as part of this federally supported, locally executed effort,” said USCM President Mayor Bryan Barnett, Mayor of Rochester Hills (MI).

“Local leaders have been on the frontlines of this crisis for over five weeks – and we needed federal relief yesterday, not tomorrow. My city of Los Angeles is lucky to be one of the 36 cities that will receive direct federal funding as part of the CARES Act, but it is inexcusable that the majority of cities, towns and villages currently will not be given direct funding,” said Joe Buscaino,  President Pro Tempore of the Los Angeles City Council and President of the National League of Cities. “We are the level of government closest to the people, and we must be given the flexibility to allocate resources where they are needed most.”

NOTE: A total of 2,463 cities, towns and villages provided information to NLC and USCM.  2,191 of the cities are under 50,000 population; 181 are between 50,000 and 199,999; 56 are between 200,000 and 499,999; and 35 have a population of 500,000 and above — a group that includes 19 of the nation’s 20 largest cities. These cities represent 57% of the nation’s municipal finance sector and 10% of its municipal governments.  Their population totals 93,015,252, which is 28% of the total U.S. population.