The United Way ALICE Project shines a light on the growing number of hard-working families who are living paycheck-to-paycheck, with earnings that exceed the Federal Poverty Level but fall short of covering basic costs of living. By using non-partisan, objective data, United Way is working to ignite a movement where communities and organisations can better understand problems faced by hardworking residents and take action that will stabilize more working families and the wider economy.
Do you know ALICE?
ALICE, an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, is a new way of defining and understanding the struggles of households that earn above the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to afford a bare-bones household budget. The working poor.
For far too many families, the cost of living outpaces what they earn. These households struggle to manage even their most basic needs - housing, food, transportation, child care, health care, and necessary technology.
When funds run short, cash-strapped households are forced to make impossible choices, such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent, filling a prescription or fixing the car. These short-term decisions have long-term consequences not only for ALICE families, but for all of us. Despite the critical nature of many jobs to keep our local economies running – educating our youngest children, keeping our ailing parent safe – these workers often struggle to keep their own households from financial ruin.
Traditional measures of poverty do not capture the magnitude of people who are struggling financially.
WHO IS ALICE?
ALICE is your child care worker, the cashier at your supermarket, the gas attendant, the salesperson at your big box store, your waitress, a home health aide, an office clerk, your postman.
ALICE cannot always pay the bills, has little or nothing in savings, and is forced to make tough choices such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent.
ALICE data for Clinton County, Iowa
Population: 47,972 • Number of Households: 19,871
Median Household Income: $50,067 (state average: $56,247)
Unemployment Rate: 4.6% (state average: 3.9%)
ALICE Households: 25% (state average: 25%) • Households in Poverty: 13% (state average: 12%)
Why do so many households struggle?
The cost of living continues to increase…
The Household Survival Budget reflects the bare minimum that a household needs to live and work today. It does not include savings for emergencies or future goals like college. In 2016, costs were well above the Federal Poverty Level of $11,880 for a single adult and $24,300 for a family of four. Family costs increased by 41 percent statewide from 2010 to 2016, compared to 9 percent inflation nationally.
…and wages lag behind
Employment and wages vary by location; firms generally pay higher wages in areas with a higher cost of living, although those wages still do not always cover basic needs. Employment and wages also vary by firm size: Large firms tend to offer higher wages and more job stability; smaller businesses can account for more jobs overall, especially in rural areas, but may pay less and offer less stability. Medium-size firms pay more but typically employ the fewest workers.
Help Make a Difference to local families that are struggling to get by, give to the United Way of Clinton County, Iowa today.
United Way of Clinton County, Iowa is committed to understanding the communities we serve. For us to initiate long-lasting community change, we need to address the underlying causes of most significant local issues.
Mobilizing the community to own this issue collectively, only then will any solutions be possible.
An organization dedicated to leading the large-scale social changes to improve our communities for all.