The results of St. Paul’s pilot program, using public dollars to provide families with a guaranteed monthly income, indicate positive trends in employment, physical and mental health, and other indicators of well-being and quality of life.
In 2020, Mayor Melvin Carter and the City of Saint Paul launched the People’s Prosperity Pilot during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, using funds from the CARES Act, along with state and private funding. The pilot program provided 150 St. Paul families $500 a month for 18 months.
The pilot was operated between October 2020 and April 2022. During that time, more than half of the funds were used to purchase items such as food, household goods, and hygiene products. Nearly half of the participants were of mixed background with 27 percent identifying as White, 24 percent as African American, and 13 percent as Latino. Roughly nine out of 10 participants were women.
Researchers at the Center for Guaranteed Income Research (CGIR) at the University of Pennsylvania found that during the program, the number of people employed increased from 49 percent at the beginning of the pilot to 63 percent six months after the program ended. While receiving monthly guaranteed income payments, families also maintained or improved their financial stability, allowing them to save money and minimize income volatility. There was a seven percent increase in participants transitioning to better housing during the guaranteed income program.
Recipients showed few symptoms of anxiety or depression and had favorable levels of health and well-being, physical limits, and physical functioning. When payments stopped there was a decrease in average level of general health. The percentage of participants reporting feelings of high hope progressively increased during and beyond the study from 15 percent to 21 percent at the end of the program and 22 percent six months after the program ended.
“A guaranteed income addresses the basic cause of poverty—a lack of money,” said Mayor Carter. “This pilot shows that a relatively small, no-strings-attached payment can open up a world of opportunity. Leveraging unconditional cash on a national level is an obvious tool that can dismantle generational poverty.”
St. Paul’s pilot is the first program affiliated with Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a coalition of 125 mayors, of which Mayor Carter is the co-chair.
“The guaranteed income payments took a weight off my shoulders,” said Lucille O’Quinn, guaranteed income recipient. “It helped me go from survival mode to feeling like my family is going to be okay, no matter what. The sense of relief is real. It shows that government really can make a difference in our lives.”
Review the full report, “The American Guaranteed Income Studies: Saint Paul, Minnesota” from CGIR.