The federal government may have avoided defaulting on its debts, but many local governments probably won't be so lucky. Dozens of cities and counties across the country are struggling to make ends meet, after the recession and housing market collapse left them with dramatically reduced property tax revenue. As they struggle to pay off debts and financial obligations acquired during the boom years, they're also receiving less money from state government, and the feds. Here, a look at the plight of local governments, by the numbers:
Number of municipal bond defaults in 2010, totaling $2.24 billion
50 to 100
Number of municipal governments that could default on debt payments this year, according to Meredith Whitney, founder and CEO of Meredith Whitney Advisory Group. Through June, though, there were only 24, totaling $746 million.
Approximate number of municipal bankruptcy petitions filed in the 60 years since Congress established a federal process, Chapter 9 in the bankruptcy code, for the resolution of municipal debts during the Great Depression
Share of the U.S. economy made up by the budgets of state and municipal governments
Total budget deficits of California, New Jersey, and about 44 other states currently in the red
Amount owed by Jefferson County, Ala., which includes Birmingham. The debt stems from a massive sewer bond that is coming due
Amount Jefferson County is asking its creditors to shave off of its debt in a bid to avoid what would be the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history
Amount Orange County, Calif., lost from bad investments before it filed for bankruptcy in 1994
Unfunded pension obligations to retired city workers owed by Central Falls, R.I., pop. 19,000, which filed for bankruptcy this week. Many other towns on the brink of bankruptcy owe more in pensions than they can afford to pay.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- This is what happens when Republicans actually enact their radical agenda
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The Obama administration's nonstop incoherence on ISIS
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How I dug myself out of debt — and stayed that way
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 6 super-helpful iOS8 tricks you probably don't know about
- Why so many Christians won't back down on gay marriage
- The European Union was supposed to end nationalism. It gave it new life instead.
Subscribe to the Week