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Expand chart
Data: National League of Cities City Fiscal Conditions Report; Chart: Axios Visuals

In fiscal year 2018, total general fund revenues increased less than 1% for cities surveyed by the National League of Cities, representing their lowest annual growth rate since 2013.

Why it matters: General fund revenue changes reflect local economic conditions. When revenues coming in can't cover the expenditures going out, city officials have to make hard choices to balance their budgets.

  • Finance officers across the country estimate their fiscal year 2019 general fund revenue will drop by about 1%, while spending will grow to about 2.3%, according to NLC's annual City Fiscal Conditions report.

Where the money comes from: Property and sales taxes usually make up the bulk of a city's general fund revenue. Some cities also tax income. Money also comes from utility and other user fees. General fund expenditures, on average, account for more than half of total city spending.

Where the money goes: Infrastructure costs were the top negative budget factor reported, followed by public safety needs and the cost of pensions.

  • In addition, local government's purchasing power is weakening when compared to other areas of the economy.

Between the lines: Spending increased the fastest in big cities, the survey showed, and larger midsized cities showed the slowest revenue growth. That may explain why larger cities reported the gloomiest recession predictions.

  • 63% of financial officers in big cities and 49% of financial officers in larger midsized cities predict a recession within the next one to two years.
  • (Note: General fund trend data in the chart above is based on aggregated fiscal data across all responding cities, which means cities with larger budgets have more influence on the trends.)

What to watch: Chicago may be a litmus test for how older cities are dealing with legacy pension costs and dwindling populations. Chicago has an $838 million budget gap, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot plans to deliver her first budget to the city council today, per the WSJ.

Go deeper ... Exclusive: Cities see signs of recession on the horizon

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

How the tech stock selloff is hurting average Americans

Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Investors holding the ultra-popular Nasdaq 100 and S&P 500 index funds have been hard hit over the last two weeks as tech shares have been roiled by rising U.S. Treasury yields.

Why it matters: Even though the economy is growing and many U.S. stocks are performing well, most investors are seeing their wealth decline because major indexes no longer reflect the overall economy or even a broad swath of public companies — they reflect the performance of a few of the country's biggest companies.

2 hours ago - World

UN rights chief: At least 54 killed, 1,700 detained since Myanmar coup

A Feb. 7 protest in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo: Getty Images/Getty Images

Police and military officers in Myanmar have killed at least 54 people during anti-coup protests, while "arbitrarily" detaining over 1,700 people, United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said Thursday.

Why it matters: Protesters have demonstrating across Myanmar for nearly a month, demanding the restoration of democracy after the country's military leaders overthrew its democratically elected government on Feb. 1.

3 hours ago - Health

The danger of a fourth wave

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: Anomalous Arkansas case data from Feb. 28 was not included in the calculated change; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. may be on the verge of another surge in coronavirus cases, despite weeks of good news.

The big picture: Nationwide, progress against the virus has stalled. And some states are ditching their most important public safety measures even as their outbreaks are getting worse.