| WASHINGTON, July 27
WASHINGTON, July 27 (Reuters)- Local government revenue has
dwindled so severely that U.S. cities and counties will have to
cut hundreds of thousands of jobs in the coming months, leaving
communities without basic services and pressuring jobless
rates, according to a new survey.
The survey, released on Tuesday by three government
associations, aims to press Congress on pending legislation
that would give them $75 billion over two years to preserve
Local and state government employment accounts for more
jobs in the United States than construction and manufacturing
combined. The survey by the National League of Cities, National
Association of Counties and U.S. Conference of Mayors found
that they are the primary employer in many communities.
Those surveyed -- 214 cities with populations of more than
25,000 and 56 counties of more than 100,000 people -- reported
they will cut 8.6 percent of their full-time positions from
2009 through 2011.
"If applied to total local government employment
nationwide, an 8.6 percent cut in the workforce would mean that
481,000 local government workers were, or will be, laid off
over the two-year period," the report said.
Currently, the U.S. unemployment rate stands at 9.6
The groups warned that job losses could climb even higher
as many states struggle with their own budget gaps and cut aid
to cities and counties. For an analysis, see [ID:nN28190621]
"Local governments across the country are now facing the
combined impact of decreased tax revenues, a fall-off in state
and federal aid and increased demand for social services," the
report said. "Over the next two years, local tax bases will
likely suffer from depressed property values, hard-hit
household incomes and declining consumer spending."
So far, more than one-half of cities and more than
one-third of counties have cut staffing for police, safety and
firefighting in response to the deep recession that began in
2007. The proportion is surprisingly high, given that "cities
and counties almost always seek to protect public safety
"For some communities this means fire and police stations
that are closed and the potential for reduced capacity to
respond to emergencies," the report said. For an analysis, see
A majority of cities and counties are cutting public works
staff such as trash collectors, and postponing infrastructure
projects such as highway repairs.
The cuts will trickle into the private sector because they
will limit the number of contracts companies can bid on,
according to the survey.
(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)