While a greater proportion of Miami-Dade County residents vote relative to the U.S. average, local voter participation rates are declining. Miami’s rates of charitable giving and volunteerism also remain low.
As a proportion of income, Miami residents give less money to charity than their peers in places such as Chicago, Houston, New York City and San Diego.
Less than one in seven Miami residents regularly volunteer, the lowest rate in the U.S. among major metropolitan areas.
A community’s transportation system and access to transit can impact a person’s decision to travel to a volunteer site.
What could cause this?
Miami has some of the longest commutes in the country. More than half of Miami drivers spend at least 30 minutes commuting to work each way and the average commute for Miami transit riders exceeds 45 minutes.
Every hour one spends in traffic congestion or waiting for the bus means one less hour available for family, friends and the community.
Miami-Dade County residents are more likely to have been born abroad than in the United States.
While this brings its benefits to the region, the relative absence of long-term residents is also a likely contributing factor to Miami’s lack of civic engagement.
Newcomers may feel less connected to the community and are often not aware of volunteer opportunities.
Miami’s economy has strongly rebounded since the depths of the recession. The local unemployment rate stands at less than half the level observed in 2011 and total employment within the community is at an all-time high.
Miami’s renewed economic vibrancy, however, has also brought with it new challenges.
The region faces growing traffic congestion, rising cost of living, declining per capita park space and increasing levels of youth violence.
Greater civic engagement and direct action among local residents will play a vital role in addressing these critical issues.