Caring means having a connection with others and being concerned for their wellbeing. It can be expressed in many ways — from helping an elderly person cross the street to fighting a house fire. In 2021, Americans need to feel cared for more than usual as they face a global pandemic, high unemployment, the fallout of a presidential election and more. Certain parts of the country put compassion into practice more than others, though.
As a whole, Americans have shown their care through charitable giving more and more. According to Giving USA, Americans donated nearly $450 billion in 2019, a decrease of 2.4% from the previous year when adjusted for inflation. However, even if you can’t afford to give away your income – especially during the difficult conditions of this year – there are plenty of other ways to show kindness to others. You can volunteer your time and expertise as well.
In order to identify the areas that care the most, WalletHub compared the 100 largest cities across 39 key indicators of a compassionate spirit. Our data set ranges from the share of sheltered homeless persons to volunteering hours per capita to the share of income donated to charity.
Most Caring Cities in the U.S.
|Overall Rank||City||Total Score||‘Caring for the Community’||‘Caring for the Vulnerable’||‘Caring in the Workforce’|
|3||New York, NY||68.00||11||12||4|
|5||Virginia Beach, VA||66.38||2||13||22|
|6||St. Paul, MN||65.46||18||27||3|
|12||Jersey City, NJ||62.76||32||44||5|
|17||San Diego, CA||60.62||27||4||84|
|23||San Jose, CA||59.67||23||11||76|
|27||San Francisco, CA||59.18||79||3||34|
|32||Colorado Springs, CO||58.25||68||16||40|
|36||Fort Wayne, IN||57.42||51||48||27|
|38||Chula Vista, CA||57.20||19||31||83|
|43||Los Angeles, CA||55.73||65||35||39|
|45||Santa Ana, CA||55.61||46||50||59|
|52||Fort Worth, TX||55.04||17||62||79|
|57||Long Beach, CA||54.74||57||51||50|
|62||St. Louis, MO||53.89||83||36||31|
|66||Kansas City, MO||52.90||74||70||29|
|67||St. Petersburg, FL||52.77||69||40||69|
|76||Oklahoma City, OK||49.82||78||73||62|
|77||El Paso, TX||49.27||12||89||95|
|80||Las Vegas, NV||48.05||56||61||98|
|81||San Antonio, TX||47.81||81||83||73|
|83||New Orleans, LA||47.71||84||87||44|
|85||North Las Vegas, NV||47.29||58||69||98|
|94||Corpus Christi, TX||45.43||92||88||61|
|95||Baton Rouge, LA||44.91||98||72||56|
|98||San Bernardino, CA||43.59||93||74||86|
Ask the Experts
Every now and then, we all need a helping hand. Sometimes that help must come from our local government and community. We asked a panel of experts for their ideas on how cities can provide the care that residents need and address other important challenges. Click on the experts’ profiles to read their bios and thoughts on the following key questions:
- Should people who care for children or other relatives receive financial compensation from the government?
- How can local authorities encourage citizens to be more caring?
- Foster care has largely replaced orphanages in the United States. Is this trend good?
- How might the proposed tax overhaul affect charitable giving to local nonprofit and social service organizations?
- How can local communities strike the right balance between care services provided by the government versus nonprofits, charities and religious organizations?
- How can cities design programs that care for people in need while also encouraging self-sufficiency?
- During the first months of the pandemic, 56% of U.S. households engaged in charitable activities, either by donating directly to an organization or by supporting their local community. Do you think the level of generosity will increase or decrease as the pandemic progresses?
Ask the Experts
In order to determine the most caring cities in America, WalletHub compared the 100 most populated cities across three key dimensions: 1) Caring for the Community, 2) Caring for the Vulnerable and 3) Caring in the Workforce.
We then evaluated those dimensions using 39 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the highest level of caring. Data for metrics marked with an asterisk (*) were available only at the state level. For metrics marked with two asterisks (**), we used the square root of the population to calculate the population size in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.
Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
In determining our sample, we considered only the city proper in each case and excluded cities in the surrounding metro area.
Caring for the Community – Total Points: 40
- Violent Crime Rate: Triple Weight (~5.33 Points)
- Property Crime Rate: Triple Weight (~5.33 Points)
- Average Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities per Capita: Half Weight (~0.89 Points)
- Driving Fatalities per Capita: Half Weight (~0.89 Points)
- Pedestrian Fatality Rate: Half Weight (~0.89 Points)
- Care for the Environment: Full Weight (~1.78 Points)
Note: The share of workers who carpool was used for this metric.
- WalletHub “Energy Efficiency” Ranking: Half* Weight (~0.89 Points)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Most & Least Energy Efficient States" ranking.
- Social Ties: Full Weight (~1.78 Points)
Note: This metric is based on responses to Sharecare’s RealAge® Test and was used in our analysis to highlight the places where relationships with family and friends are strongest and therefore likely to result in a positive effect on a person’s social life.
- Civic Engagement: Full* Weight (~1.78 Points)
Note: The share of citizens who voted in the 2018 elections was used for this metric.
- Favors for Neighbors: Triple Weight (~5.33 Points)
Note: This metric measures the share of residents who do favors for their neighbors.
- Presence of “Built for Zero” Communities: Full Weight (~1.78 Points)
Note: This binary metric measures the presence or absence of “Built for Zero” Communities in a city. Built for Zero (formerly Zero: 2016) is a rigorous national change effort working to help a core group of committed communities end veteran and chronic homelessness. Coordinated by Community Solutions, the national effort supports participants in developing real time data on homelessness, optimizing local housing resources, tracking progress against monthly goals, and accelerating the spread of proven strategies.
- Food & Clothing Distribution to the Needy: Full Weight (~1.78 Points)
Note: This metric measures the share of residents who collect or distribute food or clothing for the needy.
- Share of Residents Who Fundraise or Sell Items to Raise Money: Full Weight (~1.78 Points)
- Share of Income Donated to Charity: Full Weight (~1.78 Points)
- Online Giving per Capita: Full Weight (~1.78 Points)
- Volunteering Hours per Capita: Double Weight (~3.56 Points)
- Share of Registered Volunteer Fire Departments: Full* Weight (~1.78 Points)
- Google Search Interest for “Charitable Donations”: Half Weight (~0.89 Points)
Note: This metric measures the real intent of the population to find information using the following search terms: “volunteer”, “non profit organizations”, “charity”, “charitable donations” and “charitable organizations”. “Real intent” is measured using the average monthly search volumes for those specific terms.
Caring for the Vulnerable – Total Points: 40
- Child Poverty Rate: Double Weight (~5.71 Points)
- Adult Poverty Rate: Double Weight (~5.71 Points)
- Adoption Rate: Half* Weight (~1.43 Points)
Note: This metric measures the number of children adopted through public agencies per adult population.
- Availability of Paid Family Leave: Full* Weight (~2.86 Points)
Note: This binary metric considers the presence or absence of paid family leave in the state.
- Share of Sheltered Homeless Persons: Double Weight (~5.71 Points)
- Rehabilitation Centers per Capita**: Half Weight (~1.43 Points)
- Pet Shelters & Rescue Services per Capita**: Full Weight (~2.86 Points)
- Animal Protection Laws Ranking: Full* Weight (~2.86 Points)
Note: This metric is based on the “2019 U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings” report.
- Disability-Friendliness of Employers: Double Weight (~5.71 Points)
Note: This metric measures the share of people with disabilities who are employed.
- Uninsured Rate: Double Weight (~5.71 Points)
Caring in the Workforce – Total Points: 20
- Residents Who Work in Community & Social Services per Capita: Double Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Physicians per Capita: Full Weight (~1.67 Points)
- Nurses per Capita: Full Weight (~1.67 Points)
- Special-Education Teachers per School-Aged People with Disabilities: Full Weight (~1.67 Points)
- Teachers’ Care for Students’ Well-Being: Full Weight (~1.67 Points)
Note: Student-teacher ratio was used for this metric.
- Counselors’ Care for Students’ Well-Being: Full Weight (~1.67 Points)
Note: Student-counselor ratio was used for this metric.
- Childcare Workers per Total Number of Children: Full Weight (~1.67 Points)
Note: Childcare workers attend to the basic needs of children, such as dressing, bathing, feeding, and overseeing play. They may help younger children prepare for kindergarten or assist older children with homework.
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental-Health Counselors per Capita: Full Weight (~1.67 Points)
- Personal-Care Aides per Capita: Full Weight (~1.67 Points)
- Firefighters per Capita: Full Weight (~1.67 Points)
- Paramedics per Capita: Full Weight (~1.67 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Corporation for National & Community Service, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Administration for Children & Families, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, National Center for Education Statistics, Sharecare, Animal Legal Defense Fund, National Conference of State Legislatures, U.S. Fire Administration, Google Ads, Community Solutions, Yelp and WalletHub research.