State Policies to Promote Shared Prosperity in Cities

The United States continues to be a country of tremendous economic opportunity, but this opportunity is not shared equally among the nation’s residents. Yet even in the nation’s most successful cities, the failure to distribute these benefits more evenly has resulted in stark racial and economic disparities.

States are natural partners for city and regional leaders. State leaders can position their communities for success.

How States Can Support Shared Prosperity in Cities by Promoting…

Affordable Rental Housing

If every household could afford quality housing and every neighborhood had housing units affordable to all income levels, households up and down the economic ladder would receive the education, health, and economic benefits they need to thrive. But without affordable housing, households are not able to share in the increased prosperity occurring in many of the country’s regions. States can play an important role in overcoming local incentives and constraints that lead to an undersupply of affordable rental housing units. States can provide resources, technical assistance, and rulemaking that raise the floor for housing preservation and production.

State Strategies and Solutions to Address Existing Impediments to Affordable Housing

Provide financial assistance and incentives to help cities expand or preserve affordable rental housing options

Protect tenants with low incomes from displacement and substandard conditions

Address local opposition to development

Adopt laws that enable fair and equitable housing access

Reduce regulatory barriers that limit or increase development costs

Support local planning and needs assessments

Human Capital Development

Access to jobs by which Americans can support themselves and their families is a cornerstone of prosperity in any community. Yet today, Americans face many serious challenges in the search for stable employment. To help residents adapt quickly to changing skills requirements, while also helping those who have struggled to gain a foothold in traditional skills development, state leaders can build and support a system of lifelong learnings—a continuum of education, training, work experience, and supportive services that includes multiple pathways, and multiple entry points, to jobs and careers.

State Strategies and Solutions to Address Existing Obstacles to Human Capital Development

Organize state economic development strategy around the development and deployment of talent

Create and grow public-private “sector partnerships” focused on regionally significant industries

Incentivize private sector training by establishing a state worker training tax credit

Promote cross-jurisdictional data sharing and integration to enable broader policy alignment

Provide statewide “promise” scholarships to students with low incomes

Expand and promote early college high schools, middle colleges and dual enrollment programs

Expand wrap-around services for first-generation college students and college students with low incomes

Expand funding and programmatic support for apprenticeships

Quality Jobs

States are engaged in efforts to build on-ramps to prosperity for companies and residents in their cities. But to truly support quality job growth in cities, state leaders need new approaches. State leaders determine whether a community can be competitive with other cites with respect to wages, they determine the rules that facilitate occupational growth and competition, and they establish the structure of the health system that supports workers and industries. State leaders can position their communities for success.

State Strategies and Solutions to Address Existing Challenges to Quality Job Growth

Provide tax credits to businesses that donate to community projects in economically distressed areas

Further incentivize work through state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs)

Create high wage jobs through targeted industry incentives and policies

Fund local entrepreneurship initiatives, particularly for underrepresented populations

Support universal access to benefits to improve job quality

Provide grants to communities for placemaking


Alan Berube                                  Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program




Solomon Greene                        Urban Institute

John Ratliff                                Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program                             



Donnie Charleston                        Urban Institute

Nathan Arnosti                                Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program   

Aaron Shroyer                        Urban Institute