— The national economy’s gross domestic product (GDP) will leap from last year’s 1.9 percent to 2.7 percent in 2014 -- and continue climbing into 2015 with a GDP increase of 3.2 percent.
— Growth in consumer consumption (the driver of the economy) will be up sharply in 2014 from 2 percent to 2.8 percent in 2014.
— At the city level, 356 of the 363 U.S. metropolitan areas are expected to experience “real economic growth” (inflation adjusted) in 2014.
— Almost one-fifth of U.S. metro areas are projected to experience real economic growth in 2014 of 3 percent; 62 percent (226 metro areas) will have a 2 percent growth rate.
— 297 metro areas (82 percent) will see jobs growth in 2014, and 40 percent will see unemployment shrink to 6 percent.
— On the national level, the U.S. unemployment rate is expected to fall to 6.5 percent in 2014, and break the 6 percent barrier in 2015, dropping to 5.9 percent.
“Mayors are making the most of what they have and what their residents can afford,” Smith emphasized. “It’s a tough job, and we are doing it with little help from Washington, D.C. We hope Congress can learn from us (mayors) how to put partisanship aside to advance ideas that can truly help real, everyday people.”
The USCM also commissioned an energy study and found, despite tight budgets, a remarkable 300 cities that plan to reduce their consumption of energy. Most expect to make energy-efficient lighting (LEDs) a priority over the next two years, as well as retrofitting public buildings with energy-saving equipment. Mayors plan to find the funds in their own budgets and to partner with private enterprise (including electric companies) to accomplish energy-saving programs.
More than seven in 10 mayors believe their local utility companies are “their most important partners” in implementing plans to conserve energy, lower taxpayer costs and bring city lighting into the 21st century.
Other good news to come from the U.S. Mayor’s Conference is that only .06 percent of local governments filed for bankruptcy in the last five years. Detroit made headlines, but it’s the exception -- by a long shot.