Research Reports Library

NLC provides evidence-based research and analysis that draws upon the experiences and observations of city leaders to help frame and evaluate research agendas. Research reports and briefs provide city leaders with in-depth analysis based upon a variety of research methodologies on current and emerging issues affecting cities and towns.

Making Local Democracy Work: Municipal Officials' Views About Public Engagement (2010)
This report compiles information from a survey conducted in the summer of 2009 to municipal officials, both elected and managerial, to find out more about their views, attitudes, and local practices in public engagement.

City Fiscal Conditions in 2010 (2010)
The nation's city finance officers report that the fiscal condition of the nation's cities continues to weaken in 2010 as cities confront the effects of the economic downturn.2 Local and regional economies characterized by struggling housing markets, slow consumer spending, and high levels of unemployment are driving declines in city revenues. In response, cities are cutting personnel, infrastructure investments and key services.

State of America's Cities Survey on Jobs and the Economy (2010)
Three in four (75%) city officials report that overall economic and fiscal conditions have worsened over the past year. To deal with the fiscal implications of declining economic conditions, seven in ten city officials report making cuts to personnel (71%), including hiring freezes, layoffs, and furloughs, and delaying or cancelling capital projects (68%). Twenty-two percent of city officials indicate they are cutting public safety budgets, which is typically an option of last resort.

Local Governments Cutting Jobs and Services (2010)
New survey research shows that local governments are now facing a fiscal crisis that will force job losses approaching 500,000 and significant cuts in much-needed public services. NLC, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Association of Counties jointly released the survey results at a press conference on Capitol Hill Tuesday and were joined by several members of Congress offering their support to cities and counties during these difficult economic times.

Municipal Officials' Views on Public Engagement: City Hall, the Public, the Media and Community Groups (2010)
This research brief, based on the results of NLC's State of America's Cities survey, reports on municipal officials views related to participation in democratic decisionmaking, the public, the media and community groups.

Municipal Officials' Views on Public Engagement (2009)
This Research Brief, based on the results of NLC's State of America's Cities survey, reports on municipal officials' views about public engagement and their efforts to involve the public in deliberating issues and helping to solve problems.

State of America's Cities 2009: Local Retail Slowdown (2009)
City officials around the country are reporting declining retail sales and increases in retail store closings in their communities. The survey also finds that locally owned retailers on main street are particularly vulnerable. City officials from cities reliant on sales tax revenues are more likely than city officials from cities with other types of revenue structures to report that retail conditions are worse now than they were last year, before the major impacts of the recession took hold.

Fiscal Challenges Facing Cities: Implications for Recovery (2009)
This report surveys the current state of U.S. cities' finances, reviews city leaders' responses to those conditions, and places these developments in the context of efforts aimed at securing the nation's recovery from the current severe slump.

City Budget Shortfalls and Responses: Projections for 2010-2012 (2009)
While the nation's economy may be approaching the late stages of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, local government budget tightening and spending cuts over the next several years could well impose a significant drag on the nation's economic recovery. Cities face layoffs, canceled contracts with small businesses and vendors, reduced services and sizable budget shortfalls for 2009 that are expected to grow much more severe and widespread from 2010 to 2012.

Cities and State Fiscal Structure (2008)
This report examines state-local fiscal structures and the way in which state fiscal regimes do or do not create a fiscal environment that makes it difficult for municipalities to effectively fund their own activities - including those that contribute to economic development at the local and regional levels.

Housing Finance and the Foreclosure Crisis: Local Impacts and Resources (2008)
The 2008 NLC Housing Finance and Foreclosure Crisis Survey showed that cities and towns across the country are facing mounting fiscal challenges as a result of the home mortgage crisis. In fact, one-third of city officials (33%) say that their city revenues and/or revenue estimates have decreased some (27%) or a lot (6%) over the past year.

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