PHILADELPHIA -- The economies of the nation's cities are starting to bounce back from the recession and grow again, but the state and federal governments need to increase their spending on infrastructure to help that growth continue, according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which released an economic report Thursday.
The report, prepared by HIS Global Insight, forecasts that 300 of the country's 363 metropolitan areas will experience real economic growth by the end of the year. The total gross metropolitan product grew by 1.7 percent last year and expanded in 267 metropolitan areas; this year, the report predicts, the average growth of all 363 areas will be just below 1.8 percent.
Fifty metropolitan areas are expected to have growth rates of 3 percent or more, led by Austin, Texas, and Houston. More than 100 areas are expected to see growth of 2 percent or more, including Phoenix, Denver, Boston and San Francisco, according to the report.
But mayors attending the conference's summer meeting in Philadelphia pleaded with federal and state governments, as well as both presidential candidates, to increase the amount of funding for infrastructure – including roads, bridges, water and sewer systems and other transportation investments. Public spending on infrastructure in the United States has fallen to 2.4 percent of the gross domestic product, the group said, something that needs to be increased in order for growth to continue.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, president of the conference, noted that infrastructure spending had been at 3 percent of the GDP not long ago. "It's going in the wrong direction," the Democrat said, adding that the change was due to the "ineffectiveness of many members of Congress."
Frank C. Ortis, mayor of Pembroke Pines, Fla., and Scott Smith, mayor of Mesa, Ariz., also called on state and federal governments to increase infrastructure spending to help city economies.
"Our cities need help," said Ortis, a Democrat. "We want action."
Said Smith, a Republican: "We believe we are falling behind."
The nonpartisan conference pointed out that metropolitan areas are home to 90.7 percent of the real gross domestic product, 89.9 percent of wage and salary income, 85.8 percent of jobs and 83.7 percent of the population.