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Only three major US cities see economic recovery: study

The Knoxville skyline show signage for USBank, First Bank, First Tennessee Bank and BB&T Bank

The Knoxville skyline show signage for USBank, First Bank, First Tennessee Bank and BB&T Bank

Three and a half years since the 2007-09 economic recession ended, only three major U.S. metropolitan areas are experiencing an economic recovery, according to the Brookings Institution.

The Washington-based research group has also deemed Dallas and Pittsburgh in recovery after analyzing their employment levels and gross domestic product per capita.

The United States has the most major metropolitan economies of all countries – 76 – according to an annual report on the 300 largest metropolitan economies worldwide that Brookings released on Friday.

“It was still better than last year when the U.S. had no metro recoveries,” Brookings Associate Fellow Emilia Istrate said.

The recession came late to many city budgets. Their primary revenue source – property taxes – took time to fall because of lags in real estate valuations. By the time they dropped, cities were also contending with falling sales and income taxes resulting from job losses.

Many of the splinters the downturn drove into their budgets remain deeply lodged, and cities of all sizes worry about federal spending cuts that are part of the “fiscal cliff.”

“Cities are emerging slowly from the Great Recession,” said Robert Zahradnik at Pew’s American Cities Project, which tracks fiscal conditions and budgets. Reuters

FACTS & FIGURES

U.S. cities’ revenue keeps falling, according to a survey released in September, with the delayed effect of weaker property values now weighing on municipal finances. WSJ

Cities expect revenue to decrease 3.9% on average in fiscal 2012, representing the sixth straight year of declines since the recession hit in 2007, the annual survey from the National League of Cities found. In those six years, cities have shed workers, delayed infrastructure improvements and slashed services. WSJ

Local areas across the U.S. have been struggling for several years after the recession sharply undercut revenues, with three cities in California recently filing for bankruptcy in an attempt to alleviate their financial burdens. WSJ

Moody’s downgraded nearly 300 U.S. municipal bond issuers in the second quarter, the most for any quarter in more than a decade and the latest sign of the potential pressure building in the market where states and local governments raise money. FT

Potential issuers of municipal bonds include cities, counties, redevelopment agencies, special-purpose districts, school districts, public utility districts, publicly owned airports and seaports, and any other governmental entity (or group of governments) below the state level.

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