Expanding the Economic Recovery to All Americans through Smarter Growth: Recommendations for the Incoming Administration

Expanding the Economic Recovery to All Americans through Smarter Growth: Recommendations for the Incoming Administration

One of the biggest challenges for the incoming administration is making the economy work for low- and middle-income workers and households. This short guide of federal policy recommendations, organized into five main goals, is designed to help the next administration accomplish just that by:

  1. Creating more housing choices
  2. Connecting Americans to opportunity by providing more transportation choices
  3. Empowering local communities
  4. Investing in existing communities
  5. Making smarter, more cost-effective investments

It doesn’t matter if the Federal Reserve or the Department of Labor issues reports with numbers pointing to a strong economic recovery if you still can’t get a job, are watching your housing costs escalate or continue to see opportunities dry up where you live. While median household income has risen in recent years, it is still shy of where it was in 2007, adjusting for inflation. And among lower- and middle-income households, it has been slower to rebound. The contentious 2016 election has highlighted deep divisions and shown that there are wide disparities between who is experiencing recovery and who is missing out.

Though they are vital to Americans’ prosperity, the role of housing, transportation, and access to education and job opportunities have been largely missing from any conversation about boosting wages, expanding the middle class or providing pathways out of poverty.

Smart growth is not a cure-all and the administration should lean hard on other economic, social and cultural solutions. But given the effects of housing and transportation costs on people’s pocketbooks, smart growth strategies — expanding economic prosperity, improving lives by improving the communities that we call home, and creating opportunities for people to have a high quality of life and build wealth — have to be part of the solution.