STUDY: The Most—and Least—Inclusive Cities in the Nation

By Kenrya Rankin Apr 26, 2018

The Great Recession of 2008 forced many cities to rebuild their economies. But in many places, the recovery has been uneven, with some cities enacting policies that increase equity across racial and ethnic groups, while others widened the gaps between the haves and the have nots. A new study from nonprofit research organization Urban Institute explores which cities prioritized inclusion in their struggle for economic growth.

The researchers behind “Inclusive Recovery in U.S. Cities” employed the following definition in their work: An inclusive recovery occurs when a place overcomes economic distress in a way that provides the opportunity for all residents—especially historically excluded populations—to benefit from and contribute to economic prosperity. In short, the recovery must embody both economic and racial inclusion to be equitable.

Researchers created indices for the most populated 274 cities in the United States (all have populations of 100,000 or more in the decades after 1970). The result is a measure of inclusivity for the years 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2013, based on available U. S. Census Bureau data.

The key takeaways from a companion blog post on the report:


More-inclusive cities tend to be smaller and concentrated on the West Coast.


The share of people of color is virtually the same in our high-ranked and low-ranked cities, but the communities look different.


Segregation tends to vary greatly between the most and least inclusive cities.


Investments in education might be central to closing the gap between more and less inclusive cities.


More inclusive cities tend to have higher median incomes.

The five most overall inclusive cities in 2013 were:

1. Fremont, California
rnt2. Daly City, California
rnt3. Torrance, California
rnt4. Santa Clara, California
rnt5. Elk Grove, California

rntThe least were:
rnt274. Dallas, Texas
rnt273. Shreveport, Louisiana
rnt272. Houston, Texas
rnt271. South Bend, Indiana
rnt270. Phoenix, Arizona


Dig into your own city’s progress using the Urban Institute’s data dashboard, or read the full report here.