3 Ways to Use the National Equity Atlas

27 Oct 2014 | Guest writer Adrian Hopkins at Bureau Blank
3 Ways to Use the National Equity Atlas
Above: Sue Clark/Flickr

Last week, Angela Glover Blackwell, the founder and CEO of PolicyLink made a bold statement at a conference organized by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston: “if people of color don’t become the middle class, there will be no middle class.”

Her statement, grounded in forecasts that predict that America’s population will be majority people of color by 2043, is a sharp synopsis for the subject of that conference, “The Inequality of Economic Opportunity.” It also poses a challenging follow-up question: “Now what?”

Enter the National Equity Atlas, a website that we built in partnership with PolicyLink and the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) at the University of Southern California. 

At Bureau Blank, whenever we are faced with a big challenge, we look for whatever data we can find to inform our approach. Now, with the Atlas, policymakers, educators and community leaders can access a large pool of data to use in research and advocacy for racial equity. 

It’s not a vault of PDFs. It is truly a tool to visually analyze this data based on location and it’s easy to use!

So, how does the Atlas help users tackle the middle class question? Here are 3 step-by-step approaches to investigate key areas:

#1 Disconnected Youth: Are all young Americans ready to enter the workforce?

How to find it

  1. Click Indictators in the navigation bar
  2. Select the Equity indicator "Disconnected youth" under Readiness
  3. Here's what you'll see

The data

In 2012, 14% of all 16 to 24 year olds were not in school or working. Native-American and Black youth experienced the highest rates of disconnect, at 27% and 22%, respectively.

Why it matters

Educational and work opportunities for young people translate into higher lifetime earnings and decreased reliance on public assistance.

#2 Homeownership: How do my region’s rates compare to other U.S. regions?

How to find it

  1. Click Indicators in the navigation bar
  2. Select the Equity indicator "Homeownership" under "Economic Vitaility"
  3. Click "Ranking" in the "Breakdown" bar and "Region" in the "Geography" bar under the graphic
  4. Begin typing your city where you see "Enter a region state" and click the arrow
  5. Here's what you'll see

​The data

In 2012, 61.9% of Boston metro area homes were occupied by their owners, putting it in the bottom third of the 150 metro regions listed. Whites in Boston had the highest rate of homeownership at 68.4%, while Latinos had the lowest at 25.4%. Click "By race/ethnicity" in the "Breakdown" bar to toggle this data.

Why it matters

Communities of color were disproportionately affected by the foreclosure crisis, placing an imperative on policies like California’s Homeowner Bill of Rights to guarantee basic fairness and transparency for homeowners.

#3 Economic benefits: If we achieve a country with no inequality, what is the payoff?

How to find it

  1. Click Indicators in navigation bar
  2. Select the Economic Benefits indicator and click "GDP gains with racial equity"
  3. Here's what you'll see

The data

In 2012, the United State’s annual GDP was $15.6 trillion. If racial gaps in income or employment were closed, the projected GDP would increase by over $2 trillion. What’s not to love about that? 

Why it matters

Rising wages, particularly for households in the lowest income groups, leads to increased spending power which is a key driver of job creation and economic growth across groups and income levels.

Links to policy campaigns, advocacy groups and strategic initiatives accompany every indicator on the Atlas, so users can see real examples of action around the country. By aligning data, narrative and action, the Atlas demonstrates that these disparities are more than a matter of fairness – they will determine our collective economic future. 

As Angela Glover Blackwell says, understanding where we stand now, region by region, state by state is the first step toward building a more equitable and prosperous future for us all.

How will you use the Atlas to connect the dots in your work? Tell us about it on Twitter @bureaublank!

Cross-posted from Bureau Blank's blog. See the original story at http://bureaublank.com/#/blog.