Announcing Upwardly Mobile


The launch screen of the Sunlight Foundation's Upwardly Mobile webapp.We’re excited to announce Upwardly Mobile, Sunlight’s new webapp funded by the Knight Foundation that allows you to research where in the country you could enjoy financial security and an improved quality of life. Upwardly Mobile is an easy-to-use relocation research tool backed by powerful economic data, allowing granular comparisons without digging through arcane government reports for each indicator. We sifted through all this data so you don’t have to, and this information is now presented seamlessly on any mobile or tablet platform.

Just enter your zipcode, career information and cost-of-living importance and then Upwardly Mobile gets to work generating a list of ideal places for you to move. Alternatively, you can browse individual cities to compare them to national averages. Through charts and graphs, you can explore how metropolitan areas of similar size compare to where you live now, including:

  • Occupation: Both the average salary for the selected occupation over time and income data for the entire metropolitan area.
  • Housing costs: Rents, as well as maintenance services and goods such as furniture and appliances.
  • Cost of living: Apparel, education, food and childcare.
  • Quality of life costs: Recreation, transportation and health care.

Part of putting this responsively designed app together included deciding which economic factors make the greatest difference in people‚Äôs lives. For instance, we decided that salary and housing costs are more important than other economic indicators such as the cost of recreation services. These weights impact the base ranking, but the importance attached to each economic category can be changed by your selections in the survey. For more information on this methodology and the technical background, check out my colleague Jeremy’s blog post here.

The Upwardly Mobile app utilizes data comes from many sources: Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Federal Financial Institutions Examinations Council, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies and the U.S. Census.

Upwardly Mobile is the second in a series of National Data Apps, developed with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The first was Sunlight Health, which helps people make more informed decisions about medical care. Sunlight also created mobile apps for monitoring lawmakers: Congress for Android and Windows phones and Real Time Congress for iPhone. The recently launched OpenStates app for iPhone and iPad tracks the inner-workings of all 50 state legislatures.

Note: 4/3/12, 5:25 p.m. This post has been updated to clarify the weighting of salary and housing costs against other economic indicators.