In Support of a Guaranteed Income

Adopted at the 88th Annual Meeting in 2020

  • WHEREAS, the U.S. is one of the wealthiest countries in the world but prosperity and well-being are not broadly shared. Wealth and income inequality are at historic highs, and people are working harder and harder yet being left further and further behind; and

    WHEREAS, nearly 40% of Americans cannot afford a single $400 emergency, and as many as 89% of Americans see their income fluctuate by more than 5% month-to-month and 60% see changes in spending greater than 30% from month-to-month; and

    WHEREAS, in 2016, upper-income families had 7.4 times as much wealth as middle-income families and 75 times as much wealth as lower-income families; and

    WHEREAS, the median black household income was 61% of median white household income in 2018 and white households hold 4 times the wealth of black households and 3 times the wealth of latinx households; and

    WHEREAS, black women are paid 66 cents for every dollar that a white male earns, and latinx women make even less at 58 cents for every dollar a white male earns; and

    WHEREAS, women - particularly women of color - are overrepresented in low-paying occupations and are far more likely to lack access to sick leave and health care benefits; and

    WHEREAS, the onset of COVID-19 has shed light on economic insecurity and exposed the vulnerability of our current welfare system; and

    WHEREAS, 38.6 million people have filed for unemployment since COVID-19 lockdowns began and unemployment soared to 14.7% in April; and

    WHEREAS, the Labor Department reports that black and latinx workers face the highest unemployment during COVID-19 and 37% of black households and 39% of latinx households have already skipped paying a bill compared to 13% of white households; and

    WHEREAS, low-income workers and people of color are more likely to work in ‘essential' services and be exposed to COVID-19 regularly; and

    WHEREAS, we live in a time of pandemics and climate disruptions, and everyone deserves an income floor through a guaranteed income; and

    WHEREAS, a guaranteed income is a recurring, cash payment, and is unconditional with no strings attached; and

    WHEREAS, a guaranteed income empowers recipients to address their most urgent needs and provides a cushion for unpredictable expenses, external shocks, and volatility; and

    WHEREAS, Stockton, CA has been piloting a guaranteed income since February 2019 and early data indicates that unconditional cash is used on basic expenses such as food, transportation, utilities, and sales and merchandise. Spending data from February 2020 and March 2020 highlight how receiving unconditional cash has enabled folks to prepare to shelter-in-place: spending on sales and merchandise decreased, while food spending peaked in March at 46.5% of all overall tracked spending; and

    WHEREAS, Stockton's guaranteed income demonstration has made the case for recurring cash payments, and federal leaders have followed in the city's example. Over 80 Congress members have signed on to a joint letter calling for monthly payments, and there are eight different bills in the House and Senate that would guarantee monthly checks until the crisis is over; and

    WHEREAS, a guaranteed income at the federal level can supplement local efforts, relieving some of the pressure on state and municipal governments. More cash in people's pockets will keep families financially secure and safe at home in the immediate term, as well as stimulate local businesses. Throughout the recession and recovery, regular monthly direct payments will stimulate spending and generate much-needed state and local revenue to drive the economic recovery across the country; and

    WHEREAS, Mayors are key advocates for innovation and creativity in government, and thus can raise awareness about the success of guaranteed income and the need to make legislative and policy changes to encourage development of this promising opportunity to improve economic mobility,

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors urges Congress to implement a guaranteed income that lasts through the end of the pandemic, ensuring that Americans are able to weather the economic effects of the crisis; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the United States Conference of Mayors urges cities, states, and the federal government to explore the feasibility of a guaranteed income, and that more pilots be launched to answer key questions related to long-term program design and efficacy; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that all pilots should be designed such that the guaranteed income supplements, rather than replaces, the existing social safety net.

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