How Mayors are Leading on Guaranteed Income

In partnership with Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI), we hosted a roundtable discussion on the evidence and opportunities for this work in cities around the country. Interest in and support for guaranteed income programs has exploded in recent years, thanks in large part to the leadership of former Stockton, CA Mayor Michael Tubbs. Under his tenure, Stockton launched the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) Pilot which provides low-income residents with $500 a month, no strings attached. During this session, the SEED team and researchers presented exciting new evidence of the impact of guaranteed income. Mayor Tubbs spoke with Mayors Melvin Carter (St. Paul, MN) and Satya Rhodes-Conway (Madison, WI) about their work to advance guaranteed income programs in their cities.

Watch the full session below:

Prior to the pandemic, income volatility already posed tremendous challenges for the nearly 40% of American households who were unable to afford even a $400 emergency cost. The past year has worsened this crisis, as even more households face unstable employment and access to needed work supports. The data from the SEED evaluation was taken from the pre-pandemic period. The results present a powerful case for the possibilities of guaranteed income in improving financial stability. Most notably, SEED participants had better outcomes in employment, less volatile income, and experienced less anxiety and depression, as compared to the control group. Detailed results of the study can be found here.

In the roundtable, mayors discussed the rapidly-changing interest in this work and the tremendous opportunities for action on such a key issue. Mayor Rhodes-Conway noted that Madison has been able to advance the pilot more quickly than expected, thanks to support from MGI’s philanthropic partners and from enthusiastic local donors. For more information on how Madison and Wausau, WI, are adapting projects in their communities, read here. Mayor Carter discussed using CARES Act funding to kickstart this work and his approach to expanding the toolbox he uses to address entrenched issues in society. He emphasized how extreme economic fragility affects entire communities and urgency in addressing these needs. Read more on St. Paul’s People’s Prosperity Guaranteed Income Pilot here.

Mayors Carter and Rhodes-Conway encourage mayors to join MGI and to explore how this program could be adapted to new cities. We are grateful to the MGI team, SEED researchers, and Mayors Tubbs, Carter and Rhodes-Conway for sharing their work.

More information on MGI and opportunities for new cities can be found here.

Photo credit: Susan Jane Golding on Flickr