BOSTON — American cities accounted for about 96 percent of the country’s job growth in 2017 as they added nearly 2 million new jobs, according to the latest annual report from a bipartisan coalition of mayors.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, which began its gathering in Boston on Friday, says in its latest “Metro Economies” report that 10 metropolitan areas alone generated $6.8 trillion in economic value in 2017, surpassing the output of most states. Those regions included New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Houston, Philadelphia, Boston and Atlanta.

Meanwhile, at an opening news conference for the mayors’ annual meeting, the group called for policies to curb gun violence and pledged to support immigrant communities as it kicked off the four-day gathering. City leaders took repeated digs at the gridlock and divisiveness in Washington while touting their own effectiveness and ability to remain above the partisan fray.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors said it’s joining the Major Cities Chiefs Association to pressure Congress into passing gun legislation like universal background checks for all firearm sales. Police Chief Art Acevedo of Houston, Texas, who joined the mayors at the meeting, said it’s time to end what he described as a “public health epidemic.”

More than 250 mayors are at the event, which lasts through Monday. The mayors will also tackle issues like immigration, infrastructure and cybersecurity. Among those who will join them at the event is Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook.

Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles said the mayors will spend $5 million in communities across the country to help immigrants with the process of becoming U.S. citizens. He also called on Republican President Trump’s administration to halt its policy of separating children from their parents after they cross the U.S. border.

“We have to obey laws, we have to fix systems, but can we be human beings first?” Garcetti said.

The mayors also criticized plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, and Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh suggested she would encourage residents to skip the question altogether.

Steve Benjamin, the mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, and president of the group, said cities are a “force to be reckoned with.”

“You won’t find much disagreement up here, but we all believe that mayors have been and are incredibly effective when it comes to leveraging our resources,” said Mayor Bryan Barnett of Rochester Hills, Michigan.


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