The people of San Pablo, California—a small, diverse, working-class city in the San Francisco Bay area—deeply understand the connection between economic well-being and health, having faced tough times together.
During the worst of the last recession, one out of five workers in this community of 31,000—one of the poorest cities in Contra Costa County—was unemployed. The city’s jobless rate has subsided to a current level of 6.9 percent of the workforce, but still ranks significantly higher than the state (4.8%) and national (4.9%) levels.
Local leaders have made removing barriers to employment and job training two of its top priorities. Voters have registered their strong support: In 2012, they approved increasing the local sales tax to fund more job training, youth services and safety initiatives.
“Poor people have typically the worst health outcomes,” says former mayor Leonard McNeil, who now is president of a local wastewater treatment district. “In order to effectively address health disparity, a city has to address the root causes of it.”