More cities are hiring than at any time since the Great Recession as the reviving economy and rising property taxes allow higher spending for a second straight year, according to a report released by the National League of Cities. Additionally, one-third of cities and towns expanded their workforces this year, compared with reductions in 18 percent. This is the first year since 2008 that job additions outpaced cuts. The gains come as 80 percent of cities said their financial position is stronger than a year ago, the most in at least 29 years.
“Growth in those jobs is a good sign for the economy,” said Christiana McFarland, the research director for the League. “Things are going in a positive direction.”
The shift erased a drag on the nation’s recovery that persisted after the recession ended in 2009, as shrinking budgets prompted municipalities to fire police officers, firefighters and other employees.
Property taxes rose 1.6 percent during 2014, adjusted for inflation, according to the survey of 354 cities conducted from April to June. Sales taxes rose 3.6 percent this year after a jump of 4.6 percent a year earlier. Income taxes gained 0.6 percent, slowing from a 4.3 percent increase in 2013.
Cities continue to face pressure from underfunded pensions, health-care costs and the need to spend more on infrastructure. Total revenue growth failed to keep pace with rising costs and dropped by 0.5 percent in 2014 when inflation is taken into account. Spending growth rose by 1 percent on that basis, less than half the rate a year earlier, according to the report.