Financial Health and Wealth Dashboard
A local picture of residents’ financial well-being
City and community leaders from government, philanthropy, and practice can make a difference in residents’ financial lives. They have the tools, policy and program levers, and decisionmaking power to influence financial well-being at the local level and help narrow the racial wealth gap.
To help local leaders target their solutions, our dashboard illustrates financial health and wealth across cities and states and by race and ethnicity, where data are available.
We looked beyond income to include credit, debt, savings, assets, and wealth. Local solutions can tackle these multiple facets of financial well-being, as well as the structural barriers that created—and continue to reinforce—racial wealth inequities.
How to use this dashboard
To drill down to the local level, we provide financial health and wealth measures by Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs), which divide states into areas containing no fewer than 100,000 people.
You can use the map to find and select a PUMA, or you can search for a city or zip code to select a PUMA.
Population by race and ethnicity
Financial Health Metrics
We define financial health as people’s ability to manage their daily finances, be resilient to economic shocks, and pursue opportunities for upward mobility.
These metrics are signs of financial distress or illustrate residents’ financial burdens, which can make it hard for households to manage their daily finances.
STRATEGIES FOR LOCAL LEADERS
Ensure family-sustaining wages
Black and Hispanic workers and women are overrepresented in temporary and precarious jobs and underrepresented in jobs that provide family-sustaining wages and benefits like health insurance, retirement savings options, and paid sick time and paid family and medical leave. This occupational segregation is the result of persistent discrimination in hiring and geographic mismatches between where people of color live and where good jobs are located. Local leaders have the power to raise the wage floor in their cities, enact universal paid leave policies, and require public works projects to hire residents facing barriers to employment. Some cities have experimented with guaranteed income programs and one-time cash payments for workers in essential occupations, such as child care, where wages are especially low.
Help residents avoid and manage debt
Too much personal debt wreaks havoc on family finances and can potentially lead to lower city revenue in the form of unpaid public utility bills, unpaid property taxes, and evictions. City leaders can first “do no harm” by ensuring that residents with debt are not penalized when applying for job certifications and business licenses, which offer opportunities for upward mobility. Several cities have also reformed the fines and fees levied by their criminal legal systems and traffic courts, which have been shown significantly harm households of color and households with low incomes. Finally, cities can train employees to provide easy on-ramps to relevant, free, and timely financial coaching programs for residents seeking services such as subsidized child care and housing assistance.
Improve college access and affordability
Black students borrow more than other students at similar institutions with similar levels of education, and they also have more trouble repaying their loans. To ensure college and career and technical education are accessible and affordable for students of color, local leaders can work with philanthropy, school systems, local community colleges, and universities to provide scholarships and college savings accounts, advocate for lower tuition and resources to lower living expenses, and provide students and parents with financial guidance and advisory support. Local leaders can also work with employers to revise tuition benefits policies to align with the needs of workers, particularly workers of color, who want to go back to school to advance in their careers. They can also advocate for state and federal reforms to help improve financial aid and provide student loan debt relief for their residents, including forgiving student loans and making improvements to income-driven repayment programs.
Produce and preserve affordable housing
The US has a nationwide shortage of affordable and available housing for homebuyers and renters. Local leaders can encourage the production of new affordable units by adopting inclusionary and streamlined zoning and land use policies. They can also explore policy solutions to increase housing supply, such as density bonuses, reduced regulatory barriers, land value taxation, and equitable transit-oriented development. Local leaders can also preserve existing affordable units by tracking and targeting buildings with subsidies set to expire, offering financial support to small landlords who wish to preserve their units, enacting policies that enable tenants to buy buildings, dedicating state and local resources to complement federal funding, fostering a strong ecosystem of developers, and learning from other cities. Local leaders can also allocate Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to support affordable housing development and preservation and help households manage rent and mortgage costs.
Help residents manage transportation costs
Transportation costs can absorb a significant portion of household budgets, especially for those who own and use cars. As local leaders help residents navigate inflation and gas price hikes while working to mitigate climate change, they can consider strategies like reducing public transportation fares, increasing bus and rail service, and repainting streets to prioritize buses and cyclists. Long-term, local leaders can plan for land use, affordable housing, and transportation together, creating reasonably priced, walking- and transit-friendly neighborhoods to reduce the need for cars. They can also invest in substantially improved transit service by leveraging funds from the recently passed US infrastructure law. These investments would produce a more affordable transportation system while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Help residents manage utility costs
Local leaders can help residents manage utility expenses by connecting them to available financial supports and coordinating with utility providers. Programs such as LIFT-UP allow city utilities to recoup lost revenue from unpaid bills, while connecting residents who are behind on their utility bills with financial empowerment services. Local governments can tap multiple sources of funding (including Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Emergency Rental Assistance, and the Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund) and coordinate across these programs using best practices to promote these supports and connect households to a broader range of services.
Improve access to financial institutions
To counter the lasting harm of redlining and other policies and practices that stripped wealth from neighborhoods of color, city leaders can strive to attract and partner with community development financial institutions, community development credit unions, and minority depository institutions, whose missions are to serve people with low-to-moderate incomes and underserved Black, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian American communities. Cities may also opt to join one of nearly 100 BankOn coalitions to connect local residents to affordable, secure financial transaction accounts offered without overdraft fees.
Support working parents through quality, affordable child care
Child care is a major expense for households with children, and the lack of child care can hold back working parents, parents returning to the workforce, and parents returning to school. Given the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on parents of color and parents with lower incomes, addressing these challenges is a critical step toward a more equitable and strong economic recovery.
Local leaders can work with state and federal officials to engage child care providers and families, particularly those who face higher barriers to accessing public supports, to identify gaps in the supply of affordable care. They can then target investments to make child care more affordable, supplementing federal-state subsidy funds to defray child care costs for parents unable to get assistance; support hard-to-find care (including care during nontraditional hours, care for infants and toddlers, care for children with special needs, and care in underresourced communities); and improve compensation for providers. Finally, local leaders can work with the state subsidy system to make child care subsidies more accessible and equitable by simplifying application processes, coordinating applications and materials across state programs, and expanding eligibility thresholds.