Fiscal Impacts from COVID-19 Could Reach $202 Billion for Counties Direct and Flexible Funding to Counties Needed in Next Relief Package

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WASHINGTON – County budgets across the nation are taking a major hit – at least $202 billion – from the coronavirus pandemic. Costs to local governments are skyrocketing while revenues plummet. These fiscal impacts are forcing leaders of America’s 3,069 counties to cut or reduce services to residents, delay or cancel infrastructure projects, and lay off or furlough American workers. This is according to the results of a new survey of counties conducted by the National Association of Counties (NACo).

“America’s counties are facing immense fiscal pressure as we continue to fight this unprecedented public health and economic crisis,” said NACo Chief Economist Teryn Zmuda. “The fiscal impacts of the coronavirus pandemic will be felt by county residents across the nation, as services are reduced and local governments make difficult decisions while balancing already strained budgets.”

By the numbers:

  • 72 percent of respondents have experienced increased expenditures
  • 60 percent have seen decreased revenues
  • 69 percent of counties that levy local option sales tax report a decline in sales tax revenue
  • 27 percent have experienced a lag or decline in property tax revenue
  • 71 percent have cut or delayed capital investments, including infrastructure and economic development projects
  • 68 percent have cut or delayed county services, including human services, public safety and community development support
  • 66 percent of counties receiving CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) dollars either indicate that the funding will not cover COVID-related budgetary impacts or are uncertain if budgetary impacts will be covered

NACo research shows that the COVID-19 pandemic could impact county budgets by at least $202 billion through FY2021, including lost revenue, additional expenditures and state funding cuts. Despite a recovery in the unemployment rate nationwide, local governments have lost 1.2 jobs lost since March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Counties are advocating for responsible federal relief in the next COVID-19 aid package, ensuring existing and any new federal resources reach county governments at the front lines of the public health pandemic and related economic fallout.   

“We are committed to working in a bipartisan fashion to secure direct, flexible funding for counties of all sizes,” said NACo Executive Director Matthew Chase. “We are calling for aid that recognizes counties’ vast responsibilities, many of which are mandated by states and the federal government. As we work to save lives and restore the economy, we need investments in our local communities while balancing overall concerns about the national debt and deficit.”

Led by 40,000 elected county officials and a workforce of 3.6 million public servants, America’s 3,069 counties support over 1,900 local public health departments, nearly 1,000 public hospitals and critical access clinics, more than 800 long-term care facilities and 750 behavioral health centers.

Additionally, county governments are responsible for emergency operations centers and 911 services, court and jail management, public safety and emergency response, protective services for children, seniors and veterans, and the “last of the first responders” with coroners and medical examiners.

View the survey results here.

NACo’s coronavirus online hub includes county level examples of response efforts, interactive maps and analyses of federal actions. View this resource-rich webpage at