Urban Employment Won't Return to Pre-Recession Peak Until 2020, Report Says

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urban employment Recovery may be a buzzword of choice for many Washington insiders, but downturn will be a reality for nearly 50 cities through at least 2020, according to a new report put out by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

"U.S. Metro Economies," which was prepared by the IHS Global Insight information company in concert with the Conference of Mayors, expects peak pre-recession employment not to return to 48 greater metropolitan areas until 2020.

The report explains:

"This group is primarily comprised of metro areas that were greatly impacted by the burst of the housing bubble and areas that rely heavily on manufacturing employment. Almost half of these metros are located in the North Central Region, with 18 coming from the Rust Belt states of Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, and another six coming from the Western states of California and Arizona."

The 48, which range from Atlantic City, New Jersey to the greater Youngstown, Ohio, metropolitan area, include 13 percent of the 363 cities cited in the report. Their potentially "lost decade," as the report terms it, is cause for pointed response from the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) wrapping up its annual meeting in Baltimore.

"We need to stand for a new world order in federal spending," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the current UCSM president. "It's time to bring our investments back home. We can't be building roads and bridges in Baghdad and Kandahar, and not Baltimore and Kansas City. Not when we when we spend $2.1 million on defense every single minute. Not after nearly $1.2 trillion spent and over 6,000 lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Linking metropolitan suffering to a need for a more isolationist foreign policy potentially casts aside the chances for savings in other areas, such as entitlements. And while debt negotiations in Washington are centering on both defense and entitlement spending, the need for overhaul of any variety was underscored by the report. Seventy-five of the metro areas are expected to have double-digit unemployment rates by December 2011, two points greater than the current national average.

But the report was not without bright spots. It also said, "The nation's gross domestic product will jump from a sluggish 1.9 percent growth during the first half of 2011 to 3.5 percent for the second half and that by December 2014 over half of metro areas will have returned to their previous peak employment level."


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