Top Concerns of US Mayors
Housing, Economic Development and Social Mobility
Housing, economic development and social mobility are in the forefront of a wide range of challenges for mayors across the country, according to the recently released 2018 Menino Survey of Mayors. The report was issued by Boston University’s Initiative on Cities based on interviews with 110 mayors from cities with populations of 75,000+ from 37 states.
Across the country, mayors view housing policy as an area where they are able to set priorities and make significant progress. While 27% of mayors view housing costs as the biggest obstacle to social mobility, half of those surveyed set modest housing production goals of less than 10% over the next ten years. Twenty-three percent of mayors prefer a 10-20% increase in units and 27% want to expand housing stock by over 20% in 10 years. Mayors’ desired housing growth is relatively similar regardless of cost of living, but mayors of more expensive cities are more likely to prefer increases above 50% and less likely to prefer increases below 10%.
An overwhelming majority (84%) of mayors believe providing financial incentives for companies is beneficial for cities. Winning a competition to recruit a company or facility has net benefits in the long run, according to 55% of mayors. The survey indicated that when it comes to prioritizing resident jobs or growing the tax base, 59% of mayors agreed they would prefer to have a business inside the city that employed outside residents rather than a business outside of the city that primarily employed their constituents.
Low wages are considered the largest barrier to social mobility by 32% of mayors. Mayors are split on the effectiveness of living wage ordinances on wage growth. A higher percentage of mayors do not believe that cities should have living-wage ordinances if it means some businesses may locate elsewhere or hire fewer people. While 13% of mayors strongly agree and 28% somewhat agree that cities should have strong living wage ordinances even if it means lost jobs or companies, 48% disagreed.