“Overall inclusion” reflects the ability of historically excluded populations—in this case, lower-income residents and people of color—to contribute to and benefit from economic prosperity. We measure this by combining economic inclusion and racial inclusion.
- “Economic inclusion” reflects the ability of residents with lower incomes to contribute to and benefit from economic prosperity. We measure this by looking at income segregation, housing affordability, the share of working poor residents, and the high school dropout rate.
- “Racial inclusion” reflects the ability of residents of color to contribute to and benefit from economic prosperity. We measure this by examining racial segregation; racial gaps in homeownership, poverty, and educational attainment; and the share of the city’s population who are people of color.
Although our measures capture inclusion for residents within a city, they may lead to higher scores for cities that have limited disparities by race or income within their boundaries but have excluded lower-income residents from residing within city boundaries in the first place. Similarly, although our measures of racial inclusion capture inclusion for residents of color versus white non-Hispanic residents, they may mask inequities between different racial and ethnic groups that experience exclusion in different ways. Therefore, we encourage users to use the rankings to track cities over time rather than focusing on absolute rankings.
To learn more about why we selected these indicators and how we measured them, click here.
Economic health captures the strength of a city’s local economy. We measure this by looking at employment growth, the unemployment rate, the housing vacancy rate, and median family income.
Although no single model for success exists, we can learn a lot from cities that have become more inclusive, particularly as they recovered from downturns. How did those cities try to ensure that all residents shared in the economic recovery?
To answer this question, we met with leaders from four cities that improved their racial and economic inclusion as they recovered from economic distress. By combining their insights with previous research about inclusive growth, we identified the following eight building blocks for inclusion growth.
- Adopt a shared vision early on, and get buy-in from local stakeholders.
- Inspire and sustain bold leadership from committed public officials or other dedicated stakeholders.
- Recruit partners from across sectors, including resident groups, the media, and business leaders. Diverse partners can create buy-in, generate and elevate insights, and support solutions.
- Build voice and power within traditionally underrepresented or disenfranchised communities. Ensure diverse representation in planning and political processes.
- Leverage assets and intrinsic advantages, such as a city’s physical spaces and the potential of its residents.
- Think and act regionally. Job and housing markets cross jurisdictional lines, and residents often live, work, and use services outside their city. Regional partnerships can help secure broadly shared prosperity.
- Reframe inclusion as integral to growth to encourage progress in both areas. A growing body of evidence suggests that diversity and inclusion are catalysts for economic development.
- Adopt policies and programs to support inclusion. Policies and programs that promote inclusion in education, housing, economic development, and fiscal policy can lead to long-term success.
To learn more about our case-study cities, the lessons learned from them, and examples of these building blocks in action, see the report Inclusive Recovery in US Cities.