Economic development was the top issue for mayors in their annual State of the City addresses for the sixth year in a row according to State of the Cities 2019, a new report from the National League of Cities. 74% of mayors significantly covered economic development in their speeches, up substantially from 58% in 2018. 

The top economic development subtopics were downtown development, community development, jobs, arts and culture, and tourism. While jobs remain important, all together a preference for place-based initiatives and an emphasis on quality of life continue to outweigh job creation strategies. 

The report also found: 

  • Infrastructure was the second most-covered topic, with an emphasis on roads. Mayors also addressed infrastructure funding, specifically the need for federal funding. 
  • Health and human services topics were third in importance, primarily focused on parks and recreation but with mental health related issues rising in prominence. 
  • Housing dropped to sixth in the rankings, with 38% of mayors providing significant coverage of the topic. Housing supply and development and affordable housing were the primary topics. 
  • Most speeches addressing energy and environment focused on the latter, emphasizing trees, landscapes, and trails. Of note, 12% of speeches discussed solar power, up from only 5% in 2016. 

For more information and to read the full report, please see https://www.nlc.org/resource/state-of-the-cities-2019.

The 2019 report is based on a content analysis of 153 mayoral speeches delivered between January and April 2019.

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