The National League of Cities (NLC) publishes its State of the Cities report to provide a comprehensive analysis of city trends based on annual State of the City addresses from mayors across the country. Our State of the Cities 2015 analysis is derived from 100 cities and represents a diverse cross section of population sizes and geographic regions.
Key findings from this year's report:
For the second consecutive year, economic development was the most commonly addressed topic in mayoral speeches, with three out of four speeches (75%) in this year's sample devoting significant coverage to the issue.
Issues concerning infrastructure (57%), public safety (55%) and budgets (43%) were also commonly addressed.
In light of recent events concerning race relations and policing in cities, many mayors discussed issues concerning race, equity and opportunity and proposed initiatives to establish more successful and socially cohesive cities.
Cities used in the 2015 sample:
Coverage of top line issues didn't vary significantly by region, although differences emerge in the way these issues play out and are addressed within regions. For example, within infrastructure, mayors in the West were more likely to discuss bikes and bike lanes than those in other regions, whereas mayors from cities in the Midwest, often with aging infrastructure, were more likely to discuss sewers.
Topic rank by region:
The amount of attention an issue received depended on the size of the mayor's city. For example, mayors from the largest cities were much more likely than those from smaller cities to discuss demographics, economic development, housing and education in their speeches. Infrastructure and budget issues were the most commonly covered topics by mayors from mid-sized cities, and public safety was a chief concern of mayors from small cities.
Topic rank by population:
State of the Cities 2014