Mayors of numerous major US cities have pledged to take part in a pilot program to provide universal basic income for city residents, amid concerns over unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The mayors of Los Angeles, Oakland, Compton, Stockton, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Tacoma, Washington; Newark, New Jersey; Shreveport, Louisana; Jackson, Mississippi; and Saint Paul, Minnesota announced today that they have joined the "Mayors for a Guaranteed Income" program—a coalition for universal basic income.
According to the plan, which was devised by Stockton mayor Michael Tubbs, residents will be provided with basic cash payments.
Forbes reports that the 29-year-old mayor launched the guaranteed income pilot in 2017, providing a basic income of $500 to 125 residents. The pilot, which lasted 18 months, ended in June 2019, but was renewed earlier this month until January 2021.
Tubbs also launched the Economic Security Project, which is designed to create a basic income floor for Americans.
"It’s taken COVID-19 where direct cash payments are part of the solution offered by the federal government, so I just thought the time was right to organize mayors around the idea because we live in a time of pandemics," Tubbs told Forbes. "If it’s not COVID-19 this year, it’ll be an earthquake next year, a hurricane the year after or fire. Folks need to build economic resilience in our cities now.”
Each city is expected to launch its own program with separate funding streams, to be allocated by the cities’ independent budgets, or through public/private partnerships, said Tubbs.
Similar projects have been undertaken in Canada, Finland, and the Netherlands, to varying results.
In Finland, a random sampling of 2,000 unemployed people received a monthly stipend of €560 for two years since 2017, but the program came to an end in 2019 after it left people "happier but jobless," according to the BBC.
"I am still without a job," said one of the participants. "I can't say that the basic income has changed a lot in my life. OK, psychologically yes, but financially, not so much."