Economic recovery felt most in big cities

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Bigger cities have been reaping the benefits of the economic recovery the most, according to a report released Friday by the National League of Cities.

Nearly 80 percent of cities with more than 300,000 people have reported that economic conditions have improved slightly and nearly a quarter of those big cities say conditions have improved greatly.

None of the cities surveyed with more than 300,000 said that economic conditions have worsened, the report said.

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Smaller cities, by contrast, have not experienced the same level of growth. For cities with fewer than 50,000 people, 68 percent reported a slight improvement, 20 percent reported great improvement and 5 percent said economic conditions had worsened slightly.

“The Cities and Unequal Recovery” report found that the retail and business sectors are doing well in cities while workforce skills are not keeping up with business demands. Residential property values are improving, but providing enough affordable housing is a challenge.

Overall, just under two-thirds of cities nationwide have reported slight improvement in economic conditions, and more than a quarter of cities reported great improvement. That’s quite a leap from the 8 percent of cities that reported a great improvement in 2013.

New business start-ups, the health of the retail sector and the number of businesses that expand are the three drivers that produce positive economic conditions, the report said. The gap between skills and employer needs, demand for food banks and shelters and affordable housing are the three most negative.

The report was based on a survey of more than 250 city officials from cities of all sizes.