Features
Financial Health of Residents
A City-Level Dashboard

The financial health of a city is closely intertwined with that of its residents. Financially healthy residents are better able to weather difficult times, are less likely to need city supports and services, and can contribute more to the local economy by supporting property, sales, and income taxes.

Our data dashboard provides a unique snapshot of residents’ financial health, including credit bureau data, to tell the story of city financial health. Recognizing that cities differ and their residents’ needs are diverse, we construct city peer groups to highlight shared challenges and promising interventions. What’s your city’s picture of financial health?

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Measuring residents’ financial health

Financial health is multidimensional. It reflects residents’ ability to manage daily finances, be resilient to economic shocks, such as an income drop or unexpected expense, and pursue opportunity to move ahead. We examine metrics that reflect these three dimensions of financial health.

To understand city residents’ ability to manage daily finances, we examine delinquent debt, mortgage foreclosures, and housing-cost burden. To understand residents’ resiliency to shocks, we measure credit scores, health insurance coverage, housing-cost burden, and unbanked status. And to gauge residents’ abilities to pursue opportunity, we measure credit scores, mortgage foreclosure, housing-cost burden, unbanked rates, and earned income tax credit (EITC) receipt.

Creating city peer groups

Family financial security matters for cities, but the relationship goes both ways. Residents’ ability to be financially secure is strongly influenced by whether local job markets are strong, housing is affordable, and growth and opportunity are inclusive. Even within cities, some residents will prosper while others need additional support to thrive.

City peer groups offer a lens to view city characteristics and identify strategies that can be adapted to local context. With that in mind, to create the city peer groups, we analyze 10 measures of residents’ financial health and the following 5 measures of cities’ economic health: unemployment rate, labor force participation rate, the share of the population with low incomes, income inequality, and population growth (or decline).

For more information about these metrics and how we create the city peer groups, click here.

About the data

This dashboard contains information derived from a random sample of deidentified, consumer-level records from a major credit bureau, as well as estimates from summary tables of the US Census Bureau’s decennial census and the American Community Survey. Additional data were drawn from tabulations of IRS tax filing data by the Brookings Institution and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households.

View and download the technical appendix.

Please contact externalaffairs@urban.org for more information.

PROJECT CREDITS

This feature was funded by a grant from JPMorgan Chase. We are grateful to them and to all our funders, who make it possible for Urban to advance its mission. Special thanks to our advisory group members, listed below, many of whom work with cities to implement strategies like those recommended here. Their insights greatly informed and strengthened our work.

Heidi Goldberg, National League of Cities
Tamara Lindsay, Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund
Solana Rice, Prosperity Now
Anne Romatowski, JPMorgan Chase
Sarah Treuhaft, PolicyLink

Additionally, we are grateful to Elizabeth Kneebone and Cecile Murray for sharing tabulations of administrative IRS tax filing records from the Brookings Institution. We also thank Urban Institute colleagues Liza Getsinger, Solomon Greene, Courtney Jones, Elaine Maag, Erika Poethig, Ellen Seidman, and Shayne Spaulding for their valuable input and feedback, as well as Veronica Gaitan, Hannah Hassani, Emma Kalish, and Janae Ladet for research assistance and operations support.

The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders. Funders do not determine research findings or the insights and recommendations of our experts. More information on our funding principles is available here. Read our terms of service here.

RESEARCH
DESIGN
Christina Baird
DEVELOPMENT
Ben Chartoff
EDITING
Elizabeth Forney
WRITING