A new report released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) predicts many American metro areas will be slow to regain their pre-recession employment levels; and for some cities, that won't happen until the next decade.
USCM, the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more, distributed the document during its annual meeting held in Baltimore, Maryland.
Specifically, of the 363 metro areas mentioned in the report, 75 of them are expected to have double-digit unemployment rates by December 2011, 193 (53 percent) will have rates higher than 8 percent, and 48 are not expected to return to peak employment until after 2020. At the end of 2012, 311 metros will have unemployment rates above 6 percent; 173 will have rates above 8 percent; and 69 above 10 percent.
In sum, USCM predicts unemployment overall will stand at 8.6 percent by year-end 2011, and not dip below 8 percent until late 2013.
On the good news front, the data indicates the nation's gross domestic project will see an increase from an anemic 1.9 percent growth, posted the first half of this year, to a 3.5 percent rate over the second half of the year. The report indicates the nation must wait until December 2014--almost three years from now-for more than half of metro areas to return to their previous peak employment level. (These forecasts are based on assumptions Congress will extend the debt ceiling without any disruptions to national and global systems.)
During the annual meeting, USCM President Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa called for "a new world order in federal spending" whereby investments are brought back home. "We can't be building roads and bridges in Baghdad and Kandahar, and not Baltimore and Kansas City, " he said. "Not 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."
The report also advocated for more urgent job creation programs, and made the case for Congress not to cut "important programs" like Community Development Block Grants.