The City Fiscal Conditions 2021 provides insight into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and proactive federal policy on city finances. This year’s analysis of survey and fiscal data from 444 cities finds that on balance, cities ended FY 2020 with the first instance of revenue loss since the Great Recession, and budgeted further decline for FY 2021.

Steep declines in sales and income tax revenues were among the major causes of revenue loss in the sector. Although significant, these losses pale in comparison to what could have been without federal intervention. The report’s findings show that federal assistance has been instrumental in helping cities recover from the pandemic and contributing to a more positive economic outlook.

As a result of the disparate impact of the pandemic on cities across the nation, about one in two cities budgeted uncharacteristically sizeable revenue swings over the past year, with about 20% budgeting for greater than five percentage points growth and 30% budgeting for greater than five percentage points decline.

Download the report to dive deeper into the survey’s results and municipal finance trends from the past year.

Source: NLC analysis of data collected for 373 cities from Annual Comprehensive Financial Reports for fiscal years 2020 and 2021.

The map above demonstrates the significant fluctuations in revenues that cities anticipated over the past fiscal year with:

  • Positive FY 2020 – FY 2021 (budgeted) revenue changes in purple
  • Negative changes in yellow
  • Darker shades indicating stronger growth or decline
  • Bubble size indicating the size of the city’s FY 2021 general fund

For a complete list of city governments included in the map, download the data here.