National League of Cities Releases State of the Cities Analysis of 100 Mayoral Addresses

New annual report provides unique window into the current conditions and future direction of our cities and our country

AUSTIN, TX. – As the prominence of cities continues to grow, the voice of our nation’s mayors is quickly becoming a barometer for the contemporary conditions and the future direction of our country. Released today, NLC’s new annual report, State of the Cities, provides an analysis of mayoral state of the city addresses and identifies key trends in cities and the responses of local governments.

The report can be found at
City leaders today are grappling with decisions that determine whether the cities of tomorrow will be places where the benefits of growth enhance quality of life for all residents.  While research has been done on the president’s State of the Union address and on governors’ state of the state speeches, very little analysis has been undertaken of mayoral state of the city speeches. For this reason, NLC has embarked on this critical analysis of state of the city addresses from mayors across the country.

“We see State of the Cities as a key window into the issues that are imperative to our nation’s local leaders,” says Clarence Anthony, Executive Director of the National League of Cities. He continued, “It provides an essential view of the national picture on cities that will inform policy choices and help cities understand key trends.”

This year’s baseline report will provide the foundation for annual benchmarking for years to come.  Key findings from this year’s report:

• Topline issues for the nation’s mayors are jobs and the economy, budget and finance, and public safety.

• Jobs, education and housing are prevalent topics in the speeches of larger city mayors, whereas public safety is the leading priority issue in cities with population below 50,000.

• Transportation issues receive extensive attention from mayors in the West and South, environmental issues from mayors in the West, education from mayors in the Northeast, and housing from mayors in the West and Midwest.

“Mayors are at the frontlines of our nation’s most pressing issues, implementing solutions, developing partnerships and innovating with an eye toward the future,” said Brooks Rainwater, Director of NLC’s Center for City Solutions and Applied Research. “State of the Cities 2014 provides not only a snapshot of what is currently happening in cities, but also develops a baseline for further exploration and understanding of what is coming next.”

As part of a new City of the Future initiative to explore key drivers of change in cities, the State of the City project analyzes 100 state of the city speeches, testing for 10 major topics and the prevalence of subthemes within each topic. This annual effort provides a baseline of key issues, challenges and strategies in cities, and, over time, a consistent and measurable benchmark on emerging trends.

The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.