Today, the Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Equity (MORE) and the Community Service Council (CSC) released the fourth annual Tulsa Equality Indicators report, with results showing an overall increased trend from the 2018 baseline.
Findings from the COVID-19 Community Impact survey were also released, in addition to the 2021 Equality Indicators Data for Action Resource Guide.
Though Tulsa’s Equality Indicators scores slightly declined compared to last year’s score, with an overall 2021 score of 39.2 out of 100, Tulsa’s numbers are up from the baseline score of 38.28 in 2018 (prior years’ scores have been adjusted for indicator changes).
These increases primarily reflect progress within the themes of Services, Education, and Economic Opportunity .
“Our effort to position Tulsa as a globally competitive, world-class city through our work in economic and community development is helping shape the future of our city for the better,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “I’m thankful to have these Indicators as a measure of where we were and where we need to be to achieve our goals, many of which are now being realized through a shift from siloed approaches to community-driven solutions. In reference to the NAE report, COVID-19 has certainly impacted Tulsa in ways we are working to address. Tulsans are resilient and I’m confident in our collective work to improve outcomes and individual and family stability.”
Using methodology developed by the City University of New York, Institute for State and Local Governance (CUNY ISLG), the report uses 54 indicators equally distributed across six themes to measure and track the level of inequality in Tulsa. Each indicator is scored on a scale from 1 (full inequality) to 100 (full equality).
“The Community Service Council is honored to once again partner with the City of Tulsa to produce the fourth Equality Indicators report as we measure our progress towards greater equality,” said Community Service Council CEO Pam Ballard. “Even when faced with data-gathering challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Community Service Council has proven our commitment to this report that we believe will help shape public policy and enact change to address inequalities in areas of economic opportunity, education, housing, justice, public health, and services.”
This year, the highest scoring indicators were Homelessness by Veteran Status with a score of 74, and Business Ownership by Gender, with a score of 71. These scores represent the highest level of full equality in this report.
The lowest scoring indicators were Payday Loans and Banks by Geography, and Food Deserts by Geography, both with scores of 1. These scores represent the highest level of full inequality in this report.
Services: 41.56 - Down 1.89 points from 2020 – Up 4.78 points from 2018 baseline
This year, the theme with both the highest overall score and the greatest improvement since the baseline is Services. Up 4.78 points from 2018, the Services theme indicates there is a declining disparity among groups of Tulsans in access to key resources that can make a difference in their opportunities. Gaps in particular resources, such as internet access and bus stop concentration, greatly narrowed, resulting in an increase of 25 points for a 2021 score of 64 for internet access, and an increase of 10 points for a 2021 equality score of 34 for bus stop concentration.
Public Health: 41.44 - Down 2.33 from 2020 – Up 1.56 points from 2018 baseline
Public Health continues to be one of the highest scoring themes, though its score declined by more than 2 points since last year. Health Care Access, the highest scoring topic across all themes, includes Health Insurance by Race, which indicates Tulsans, regardless of race, are relatively equally uninsured, and Veterans Affairs Appointment Wait Time by Comparison to National Average, both of which remain two of Tulsa’s top scoring indicators. The Public Health theme also includes one of the two indicators scoring 1 this year, Food Deserts by Geography.
Housing: 41.44 - Down .78 points from 2020 – Down 1.33 points from 2018 baseline
Lack of affordable housing is a key contributor to the slight decrease in this score from last year and from the baseline. Despite a 5-point score increase in the Rent Burden by Income indicator, growing proportions of both lower and higher income renter households experience rent burden in Tulsa. To combat rent burden, homelessness and more, the City of Tulsa continues to implement the Affordable Housing Strategy to provide more affordable housing units and help reduce evictions in Tulsa.
Education: 40.44 - Down 5.78 points from 2020 – Up 2.78 points from 2018 baseline
The Education theme fell from its former top position because of either no change or negative change in score since last years’ report for every indicator. COVID-19’s impact on schools overall and in exacerbating disparities has been deep and broad, especially evident in indicators Third Grade Reading Proficiency by Income and Emergency Teacher Certification by Geography, which fell 12 points and 8 points, respectively, since the 2020 report. Several indicators could not be updated because of a U.S. Department of Education waiver allowing school districts to suspend reporting of measures dealing with accountability during the pandemic. The affected indicators include: Chronic Absenteeism by Race, Postsecondary Opportunities Participation by English Proficiency, and School Report Card Score by Income.
Economic Opportunity: 39.56 - Up 3.11 points from 2020 - Up 2.33 points from 2018 baseline
Though the Economic Opportunity theme rose, it remains one of the lowest scoring themes this year. Much work remains to increase upward mobility for more disadvantaged Tulsans, but recent moves to boost economic growth through various initiatives are underway, such as the 2021 establishment of the Tulsa Authority for Economic Opportunity – a measure that is streamlining and strengthening the way the City approaches economic development by working to increase equality of opportunity. Three indicator replacements will help Tulsa to more meaningfully measure and track disparities in economic opportunity. These three indicators are Business Ownership by Gender, Business Ownership by Race, and Commute Time by Geography, taking the place of Business Executives by Gender, Business Executives by Race, and Existing Jobs by Geography.
Justice: 30.78 - Down .78 points from 2020 – Down 4.56 points from 2018 baseline
Justice is down year-over-year, and down from the 2018 baseline score of 35.33. Hispanic/Latinx representation in the Tulsa Police Department increased from the 2018 baseline average. The starkest decline in Justice came from the Safety and Violence topics, which was down 7.67 points from the 2018 baseline. The declining Safety and Violence score can be attributed to increases in disparity between Tulsa and the nation in child abuse and neglect, and in homicide victimization by race, though both indicators show improvement since last year’s scores. The score for indicator Juvenile Arrests by Race, at 20, decreased by 13 points from both the baseline and from last year’s report.
The City and CSC update the report annually to reflect community input and data availability.
New indicators in the 2021 report include:
COVID-19 Community Impact Survey
Though the 2021 results do not capture the full impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the report helps identify progress or lack of progress in efforts to increase equity in Tulsa since the report’s inception in 2018 and will serve as a guide for Tulsa’s recovery efforts to avoid growth in disparities.
To help provide additional insight into the impact of the pandemic on Tulsa’s communities, MORE is also releasing findings from the COVID-19 Community Impact Survey that was conducted in spring of this year. The New American Economy (NAE) worked with the City of Tulsa and local community organizations to survey Tulsans about their experiences during the pandemic. The COVID-19 Community Impact Survey was conducted between February and May of 2021 with targeted outreach to Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) and immigrant communities in Tulsa about the essential needs of their families; the impact of COVID-19 on their wellbeing; and the help they received from local organizations.
"As communities across the country continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession it caused, many residents are still facing barriers to an equitable recovery," said Nan Wu, Deputy Director of Research at New American Economy. "The findings of this survey shed new light on how Tulsans were impacted, highlight the local services and organizations that stepped in to meet people's most pressing needs, and reveal the gaps that will need to be addressed to move forward and plan for the future. We are proud to work with partners in Tulsa and across the country to lift up these findings and promote inclusive emergency management strategies."
Some key findings from the report include:
Data for Action Resource Guide Released to Accompany 2021 Scores
In addition to the report the Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Equity and Community Service Council have published a resource guide compiled from discussion and dialogues that took place during the 2021 Equality Indicators Learning Series: Data for Action. The learning series included community engagement sessions, newsletters, and blog posts. The six-session series helped Tulsans have more in-depth community conversations about the themes and indicators, learn about current efforts to address disparities in Tulsa, and equip Tulsans to use the report as an advocacy tool. The Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Equity will launch a similar learning series in 2022.
The Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Equity will host a webinar on January 14, 2022, from 11 a.m. – Noon to review the results of both the Equality Indicators Report and COVID-19 Community Impact Survey.
To explore the 2021 Scores, read the executive summary and receive updates on upcoming learning opportunities and more, visit: www.tulsaei.org.