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Data Shows a Tepid Post-2008 Recovery in America's Cities

According to data compiled by the Lincoln Institute, public revenue and spending on the local and municipal levels hasn't truly bounced back following the Great Recession.
October 23, 2017, 8am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy's Fiscally Standardized Cities (FiSC) database show only a modest level of local public sector recovery since 2008. "Created in 2013 and updated annually, the FiSC database provided the country's first meaningful comparison of local government finances at the city level by untangling the complex web of governments within each city."

FiSC tracks revenue sources like property tax, user charges, and state and federal aid, as well as "spending for capital outlays and for current operating expenses for a wide array of services including education, public safety, transportation, health and social services, and natural resources, parks, solid waste and sewage."

"In the 150 cities in the database, per capita revenues were still 3.6 percent lower in 2015 than before the Great Recession after adjusting for inflation according to an analysis of new data from the U.S. Census Bureau."

"Despite small increases in 2014 and 2015, overall per-capita spending in 2015 was still two percentage points lower in the average city than in 2007, after adjusting for inflation. Capital outlays were nearly 15 percent below 2007 levels, reflecting continued underinvestment in public infrastructure."

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Published on Thursday, October 5, 2017 in Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
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