American Cities Project

American Cities Project



Cities are essential to the nation’s prosperity—central to the quality of life, the livelihoods, and the long-term prospects of most Americans. Pew’s American cities project conducts original research and analyses to help policymakers understand the challenges facing urban centers and promising policy options that can improve fiscal outcomes for localities.

Why Cities Matter

Most Americans reside or work in cities, and the policies, programs, and services of those places touch people’s lives.  Whether cities succeed or fail will affect the nation’s economic recovery and long-term prosperity.

Cities and the Recovery

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, cities are contending with fiscal challenges, including lower property tax revenue and cuts in state and federal aid, as well as continuing high levels of poverty and unemployment. At the same time, they face profound demographic changes and economic shifts that predate the downturn, and federal and state lawmakers continue to debate major policy changes that will have significant local effects.

How We Conduct Our Work

Policymakers need more information about the key challenges facing cities and policy options for addressing them. Pew’s American cities project conducts original research to inform local, state, and federal leaders as they consider policy choices that could significantly affect localities.


November 11, 2013

America's Big Cities in Volatile Times

 This report examines how America’s big cities navigated the worst U.S. economic downturn since the Great Depression. More
CITY pensions feature box
  • Report
March 8, 2013

Cities Squeezed by Pension and Retiree Health Care Shortfalls

This brief finds that 30 cities at the center of the nation’s most populous metropolitan areas faced more than $192 billion in unpaid commitments for pensions and other retiree benefits as of fiscal 2009 and are employing a variety of strategies to address these shortfalls.   More

The Local Squeeze

Tough choices lie ahead as leaders look to balance the day-to-day needs of their communities with their long-term prospects. More
March 1, 2013

A Snapshot of American Cities

This interactive graphic provides statistics on the biggest city in the nation's 30 largest metro areas. While every city has a unique set of economic and demographic conditions, they face many common challenges. More
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