Job creation, transportation and more funding for federal initiatives like the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program are among the issues included in the Washington-based U.S. Conference of Mayors' (USCM) 2010 Metro Agenda for America. USCM released the agenda during the first press conference for its 78th Winter Meeting, which was held Jan. 20-22 in Washington.

The Metro Agenda for America focuses on five key policy areas: job creation through direct funding to cities; the passage of a balanced transportation bill; energy independence and climate protection through green, sustainable jobs and the ‟Energy Efficiency Block Grant:" improved airport security; and continued funding for CDBG, Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants, and Summer Youth Jobs. Supporting those policies will put people back to work and help the nation emerge from the recession with a stronger, more thriving economy, according to USCM. "Despite what national economists are saying, the recession is not over for Main Street America," said USCM President and Burnsville, Minn., Mayor Elizabeth Kautz. "Everyday, mayors hear from constituents who have lost their jobs and people who are desperately afraid of what lies ahead. We are here to let the residents of our cities know that we hear their calls for help, and we are responding."

USCM also released a report, prepared by IHS Global Insight, which forecast job recovery and unemployment rates in 363 metropolitan areas. The report indicates that by the end of 2011, more than 100 metro areas will still have unemployment rates above 10 percent, and 214 will have unemployment rates higher than 8 percent. According to the report, even as recovery in the labor markets pick up steam in 2011-2013, unemployment rates will not return to pre-recession levels during that period for any metro area.

Further, half of the cities included in the report will not achieve pre-recession peak employment levels until 2013 and beyond. "This data is solid proof that we need the Senate to pass a Main Street jobs package now," Kautz said. "We are in the middle of a ‘jobs emergency' that demands decisive and swift action." The House passed the Jobs for Main Street bill in December.

On Thursday, the mayors visited the White House to meet with President Obama and his Economic Advisory Team to make the case for their Metro Agenda, as well as the need for a stronger federal/city partnership. "All levels of government must work closer together to build a bold vision for what cities and metropolitan areas will look like in the coming decades," Kautz said.

Read more about USCM's Metro Agenda, or see more news from USCM's 78th Winter Meeting.

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