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This is an archived article published in June 2003
Economic situation in US cities
worse than originally thought

A report by the US Conference of Mayors and the Conference’s Council for Investment in the New American City finds that US metropolitan areas, the engines that drive the US economy, lost more than one million jobs in 2001 and 2002, three times the job loss reported in preliminary government estimates in January.

In the nation’s 20 largest metropolitan areas, the report, which was presented to the delegates of the 2003 US Conference of Mayors, predicts overall employment growth in 2003 at a scant 0.1 per cent – with nine of the metro areas experiencing either no job growth or continued employment contraction. This represents a significant downward revision from the January report, which predicted a 0.9 per cent job growth rate in 2003.

“The unemployment rate will creep up in the middle of 2003 before coming back down to present rates,” states the report produced by Global Insight, a economic consulting firm. The unemployment rate is unlikely to decline until jobs grow at an annual rate of one per cent, predicted to occur in 2003 in only two of the nation’s 20 largest metro areas, Phoenix-Mesa (1.6%) and San Diego (1.0%). A sector-by-sector analysis forecasts significant 2003 job losses in manufacturing (-2.9%), transportation-communications-utilities (-1.4%), and construction-mining (-0.6%).

The report assumes a strong pick-up in national economic growth during the second half of 2003, due in part to fiscal stimulus from the recent tax package. If a strong second-half recovery does not materialize (35% probability), then the top 20 metro areas may actually lose jobs overall.

“The weak national economy has hit US metro areas hard,” said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, President of the US Conference of Mayors. “We don’t see any help for cities coming down the road. The recent tax package provided assistance to states, which mayors support, but left out any help for the nation’s cities, which drive our national economy. We need strategic investments now in housing, transportation, homeland security, and job training to spur economic growth and put people back to work again.”

According to the report, the top 20 US metro areas will generate $4 trillion in output in 2003, or 36 per cent of the national economy. Metro areas generate more than 80 per cent of the nation’s employment, income, and production of goods and services. “They drive US growth during good times, but their continued weakness has stalled the nation’s recovery since early 2002,” states the report.

“Until metro areas, the locomotive of the US economy, revives, the national economy will continue to stall,” said Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who chairs the Conference’s Council for Investment in the New American City, a coalition of mayors, business people, and non-profit organizations, that promotes a new urban renaissance in America’s cities. “Mayors know that as cities go, so goes our nation.”


Wellington E Webb, former Mayor of Denver


Denver Mayor receives award for outstanding public service
At their 2003 conference in Denver, US mayors awarded Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb their highest honor, the Mayors Award for Distinguished Public Service.

President Harry Truman presented the first US Conference of Mayors Award for distinguished public service to General George C. Marshall at the White House on 25 November 1949. The award, given to individuals for “outstanding and meritorious public service” to the nation’s cities, has only been awarded to 17 people. “This award honors not only me, but the people of Denver who have supported my vision,” said Mayor Webb. “I’m pleased to be recognized by my peers.” Mayor Webb served as President of the US Conference of Mayors from 1999-2000. Former Denver Mayor William McNichols is the only other Denver Mayor to have served as conference president.

In addition to his successes in Denver, Mayor Webb led the collective efforts of the nation’s Mayors to enact new federal legislation to fight crime and establish common sense gun laws. He has also encouraged Mayors around the world to exchange ideas and information to combat shared challenges. He was the first Mayor and only the third American to speak before the German Parliament in Berlin.