Meaningful Work and Wealth: Economy

PHOTO BY Jon Tyson

What makes a community’s economy vibrant and inclusive? An inclusive economy is about all people being able to have fairly paid, secure, meaningful work. People feel financially secure when they can take care of their basic needs and handle unexpected costs that might come up. When people struggle with financial security, they have less hope, age faster, and die prematurely. Communities that don’t have a healthy economy can find it difficult to attract people to live or work there. This can make it difficult to have enough resources for good schools, parks, roads, and all the other conditions that create well-being. This can lead to a cycle of hopelessness and intergenerational poverty. Additionally, communities where not all people have equitable access to good jobs experience income inequality. Income inequality can lead to poorer health outcomes and higher health care costs.

Other Interesting Measures


  • Percent of households receiving public assistance income. Source: Census.
  • Percent of population living in owner-occupied housing. Source: ACS.
  • Mean financial well-being level (self-reported financial security on Cantril’s ladder). Source: 100MLives Well-being Assessment.
  • Percent of households receiving support from a state, city or community agency or organization (SNAP, free school breakfast/lunch, etc.). Source: Combination of sources, e.g., American Communities Survey, USDA Food & Nutrition Service Data.


  • Proximity to employment. Source: Child Opportunity Index.
  • Labor force participation rate (%). Source: Census.