NLC’s 2022 State of the Cities Report Examines the Top Issues That Face America’s Mayors Today

June 23, 2022 - (3 min read)

Washington, DC – Mayors have long demonstrated their capacity to lead on critical issues that extend beyond city limits. Much like the president’s State of the Union, each year, mayors across the nation detail the state of America’s cities. The National League of Cities’ 2022 State of the Cities report examines the top issues that face America’s mayors today. This year, the topics local leaders highlighted as top priorities in their annual state of the city speeches include infrastructure, economic development, budget and management, and public safety. 

  • Infrastructure: The historic passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in late 2021 provides local governments with an exciting opportunity to make significant investments in their municipal infrastructure. According to this year’s speeches, mayors are particularly prioritizing water and sewer infrastructure, as well as roadway and transportation projects, as key areas for investment. 
  • Economic Development: As society slowly recovers from the pandemic, city leaders are focusing on revitalizing their downtowns, investing in commercial real estate projects and supporting their local entrepreneurs to help spur economic growth. Prioritizing community development is a key way local leaders aim to support those most impacted by the pandemic in 2022.  
  • Budget & Management: Like other sectors, city governments are experiencing high turnover in staffing. Many cities stressed an urgent need to hire, difficulty filling positions and efforts to increase pay and other benefits to incentivize city employment. At the same time, cities are laser-focused on finding the most effective ways they can implement their American Rescue Plan and Infrastructure Investment & Jobs funds for community projects.
  • Public Safety: Criminal justice reform and crime prevention are both key areas local leaders across the country are focused on in 2022. Cities are making efforts to improve the ways they respond to crime by hiring social workers and mental health professionals to respond to emergency calls and implementing de-escalation training for police officers, while also calling for stronger crime prevention measures. 

“This year was full of big opportunities for cities, with American Rescue Plan and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law dollars now headed directly to communities,” said NLC CEO and Executive Director Clarence E. Anthony. “From this year’s speeches, it’s clear that our local leaders are reaping the benefits of those hard-won efforts with the ultimate goal of making our cities, towns and villages better, more equitable places to live.”

This year’s State of the Cities report indicates that cities are focused on rebuilding their communities with the infrastructure dollars heading their way, while simultaneously working through employment pressures and working to ensure all their residents are treated equitably. To read the full report, click here.


The National League of Cities (NLC) is the voice of America’s cities, towns and villages, representing more than 200 million people across the country. NLC works to strengthen local leadership, influence federal policy and drive innovative solutions. Stay connected with NLC on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.