Throughout the world, the United States is viewed as a country where people can work hard to achieve the American dream: financial prosperity and land ownership. However, the American dream is slowly becoming a dream of the past as more Americans struggle to achieve financial freedom or even stability.
Due to a web of interconnected structural barriers, upward mobility (or the possibility for socio-economic advancement) is no longer achievable for most vulnerable and low-income Americans. The unfortunate reality is that the zip code where you're born, and your parent’s established income when you are born statistically plays a substantial role in your future success. Local governments need to play a role in dismantling this unfortunate trend and provide their citizens with means for opportunity.
In this guide, local government officials will learn more about why they need to play a role in their citizen’s upward mobility and the city’s local economic development as a whole. Follow along for everything to know about the upward mobility of your citizens.
How Are Americans Being Affected By the Rising Cost Of Living?
Cost of living in the United States has been drastically rising for decades, making it hard for most citizens to stay afloat. On average, earnings from jobs in the U.S have not increased alongside the cost of living. Citizens face many challenges when it comes to building financial stability such as finding and maintaining high-quality jobs and paying for necessities like food and housing.
Local governments need to take action to positively impact the lives and economic status of their citizens.
What Is Upward Mobility?
Upward mobility is a term used to describe the opportunity an individual has to move up the socioeconomic ladder toward a position of increased status or financial standing. Simply put, upward mobility is the ability of citizens to use their skill and hard work toward their own societal and economic advancement.
Research proves that the most impoverished citizens in the country are extremely unlikely to rise to the middle of the American income distribution without governmental assistance. Citizens in poverty deserve the opportunity to be able to advance out of poverty, improve their lives, and shape their own futures.
Why Do Governments Play a Major Role in Upward Mobility at the Local Level?
Local governments play a substantial role in the upward mobility of their communities because the government holds the power to create more jobs, improve public education, refine government services, and promote growth which all contribute to more achievable upward mobility.
Data proves that the rates of upward mobility are far worse for certain community-members and marginalized groups, based on class, race, culture, and family history. But why is that the case? Underserved members of the community tend to be overlooked when it comes to government services, although they are the ones who need them most.
How Can Local Governments Prioritize Equity for All? Here are ways to promote equality in your neighborhood.
Common factors impacting upward mobility for marginalized groups often include:
- Housing insecurity
- Food insecurity
- Lack of available educational resources
- Lack of job opportunities
Which Key Variables Impact Upward Mobility?
Many key factors such as a lack of job opportunities, housing insecurity and poor public education systems contribute to the lack of upward mobility in the U.S.
Here's how you can improve upward mobility in your community:
1. Encouraging Small Businesses To Invest In Your Community
Small business investment in your community is a game changer when it comes to the upward mobility for your citizens. When new businesses open in your area, it creates new job opportunities, brings in new revenue for your municipality and possible tourist or visitor attractions.
Local governments that want to support employability should take actionable steps to support small business owners through private-public partnership, like providing them with free or discounted advertising opportunities and tax benefits to support the business and its growth. Offering simple digital business registration, permitting, and licensing approvals will make it easier for local businesses to operate and get the necessary paperwork.
GovTip: Trenton, NJ’s use of GovPilot’s online government real estate auction software makes for a great lesson on enticing local business investment.
In 2020, the city of Trenton decided to revitalize the community and encourage businesses to buy-up forty-nine available commercial properties throughout the city under a five-year owner occupancy requirement. These business owners got a deal on their commercial space so they could increase wages for employees, and the city has five years to dedicate to supporting its small businesses and community growth. Learn more in the Trenton, NJ Real Estate Auction for Economic Development case study.
Here are more Government Local Economic Development Tips.
2. Prioritizing Public Education
Local government investment in education creates more pathways for citizens to escape poverty and move up the socio-economic ladder. Focusing local government efforts on improving public education is the most effective, preemptive way to ensure all children begin with the same educational baseline and academic support. The public education system in your city needs to provide children with knowledge they’ll need to succeed in their lives such as, financial literacy classes and broadband internet access.
Prioritize the future of tomorrow by providing a solid, educational curriculum, encouragement, and tools such as high-speed internet that students need to get high paying jobs and contribute to the upward mobility of your community.
3. Prioritizing Educational Resources Outside Of School
Your local government can host educational events and provide resources for citizens of any age that want to continue to grow their understanding of financial literacy and available government resources.
Public meetings, educational seminars, career workshops and other local educational resources are all effective ways to encourage adults to gain control over their own futures. While these events are typically hosted at public libraries and recreation centers, online attendance options increase turn-out, because they often make it more convenient for busy citizens to tune in.
Promote events on your government social media pages and make resources easy to access via your government website to increase turnouts and improve accessibility to critical information for all citizens.
For more information on how your local government can Manage And Improve Public Meetings Online, read on.
4. Prioritizing Free And Easy-To-Access Government Services
Government services provide much needed assistance for the underserved members of the community. Government services such as public health testing and healthcare SBA need to be available to every community-member to combat inequities that reside in the public healthcare system. Easy-to-access government services ensure more citizens are capable of receiving the assistance and care that they deserve from their government.
Government services can help citizens save money, and eventually increase economic mobility for citizens already struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living. Find out what services your locality could provide citizens that would help them save money and get ahead financially. Reach out to your community-members at local events and meetings for clarity around which services would benefit them the most.
GovPilot’s health department software and streamlined health inspections can help your local government manage public health services such as health screening, digital health inspections, collecting health data with GIS mapping, and healthcare provider licensing.
5. Prioritizing Public Transit To Increase Accessibility To Jobs
Improving public transit systems in your community will increase citizens' access to jobs and work opportunities and make your city more enticing to visitors who bring revenue into the community. Dedicate funds from the transportation budget and infrastructure bill grants to improving old and already established buses, trains, and ride-rentals in your community.
Construction for large city projects like this often drain time, resources, and money from the city. Utilize construction software to modernize construction processes with simplified construction permitting, building inspections, and property record data storage.
6. Offering Educational Resources And Economic Opportunity News On Your Government Website
Regularly updating your local government website is the best way of keeping your citizens informed about the newest opportunities and resources available for education or financial advancement. Often, citizens are not notified when new opportunities for upward mobility are available and posting this information will provide them with new job opportunities.
Consider this: when new companies move into town, community job opportunities open up, or career-launching workshops become available, post about it on your community website so that citizens can look for real-time updates with ease. Municipal human resources software even allows for the posting of government job listings directly to your site.
7. Use Infrastructure Bill Funds To Upgrade Broadband Internet Access
In 2022, the Biden-Harris administration signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which dedicates funding towards repairing flawed/ineffective systems, including providing high-speed internet access to rural, disconnected communities. This bill has already provided internet-access to over 16 million U.S homes, and will help to level out the stark inequalities many citizens experience due to a lack of internet access.
This bill provides a historic $65 billion investment towards expanding affordable, high-speed internet to all communities across the U.S. This bill will also increase citizens' ability to stay connected to the world around them; students without internet at home will now be able to keep up with classwork without falling behind.
Learn more about Federal Broadband Grants for Rural American Communities.
8. Hire Local Citizens In The Local Government
Take advantage of the local talent pool in your community, and uplift community-members by hiring locals who want to make a positive impact for critical local government positions.
9. Embrace Affordable Housing
Housing insecurity is one of the leading issues that underserved members of the community face daily. People’s homes often represent safety, comfort, and a strong foundation for them, but those struggling to pay for their home are often only pushed deeper into poverty.
Substandard housing is directly linked to poor economic, health, and socio-emotional outcomes that often manifest in negative academic and behavioral outcomes for children which can make upward mobility more difficult.
Here are some ways your local government can boost upward mobility through housing:
- Budget to build more low-income housing options for your community
- Utilize government housing software and planning and zoning software to keep housing projects on time and on budget.
- Have requirements in place like NJ’s 3-Day Affordable Inspection Law to get homes built and moved into quickly without sacrificing efficiency.
For any specific questions regarding managing local government inspections, read more about the GovInspect mobile inspection app.
10. Prioritize KPIs Around Citizen Upward Mobility
Government key performance indicators (KPIs) are a tool for measuring a government's overall long-term performance. Your locality should utilize KPIs to track data about the upward mobility rates in your city compared to predetermined goals. With limited budgets and high standards for performance, KPIs are a means for local governments to get the most out of their funds and improve efficiency across the board.
Track data to learn:
- if citizens are financially struggling or managing
- if citizens are generally making more income
- what the local unemployment rate is and
- how many citizens are below the poverty line.
Prioritize letting government data analytics tell you how to help your constituents, and learn more about How To Track Performance Management for City Manager.
Improve Upward Mobility In Your Community
The opportunity for upward mobility in America is the vital key for positive community growth and economic success. Improving upward mobility needs to be prioritized by local governments through actionable steps and the use of government software.
Create a well thought out local government upward mobility plan for citizens and watch your local economy grow. Utilize GovPilot’s many resources and software solutions to support community-members and bring more equality and financial fairness into your city.
Book a consultation with GovPilot today
Local Upward Mobility FAQs
What role do local governments play in local upward mobility?
Local governments play a key role in whether their citizens will be provided with tools and resources to climb the socio-economic ladder or not. Localities should support their citizens by providing government services, resources, and easy-to-access job search materials.
What key ways can local governments boost the local economy?
Local governments can encourage local economic development by incentivizing new businesses to open and hire unemployed job-seekers in their city. Localities also boost the economy when they provide government services that citizens would otherwise have to spend their money on.
How can government services help with local upward mobility?
Local governments hold the power to be preemptive, and combat inequality early with government services such as public health testing, job-opportunity resources and strong public school systems.