Slow income and job growth are hurting economic development in cities nationwide, according a report by the National League of Cities.

While 52 percent of respondents to a NLC survey say unemployment in their cities has improved, another two-thirds say persistently high unemployment rates are responsible for economic instability in their communities.

The report also finds that the skills gap among the work force is growing.

“While today’s report shows some signs of progress, it reminds local leaders across the country that we must continue to drive economic development and job growth in our communities every day,” said Marie Lopez Rogers, mayor of Avondale, Ariz., and president of NLC. 

“We cannot have a full economic recovery if our most vulnerable residents are being left behind; accelerating this turnaround requires strong, commo- sense leadership in Washington who understand that the health of our national economy is directly linked to strong economies in cities and who are willing to support smart investments in cities.” 

Clarence Anthony, executive director of NLC, said the report “reinforces the urgency for the federal government to accelerate the nation’s growth through smart investments and strategic cuts that will help build healthy local economies.”

“Local leaders continue to press for investments in workforce education to train workers to compete in the next generation of jobs and in infrastructure investments that put people back to work while improving the ability of business to move products around the country,” he said in a statement.

While 53 percent of respondents say local workforce skills are an obstacle to the economic health of their communities, 88 percent of respondents say workforce alignment has not improved in the last year. Another 82 percent of respondents say they have not seen an increase in their populations attaining post-secondary degrees.

“The report shows the weight that these barriers have on local economic growth,” said Christy McFarland, the report’s author and interim director of NLC’s Center for Research and Innovation. “Workforce development and job creation are integral to the economic health of our communities, and without federal investment in these areas, we will probably continue to see high unemployment severely hampering cities’ economic recoveries.”