51 Million US Households Can’t Afford Basics
Grassroots United Way Project Sheds Light on Magnitude of Financial Hardship in America
LINK: Hawaii ALICE Report Details
From United Way ALICE, WASHINGTON, D.C. May 17, 2018
There are 50.8 million U.S. households that can’t afford a basic monthly budget including housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone, according to new data released by the United Way ALICE Project.
This calculation includes the 16.1 million households in poverty as well as another 34.7 million families called ALICE, which stands for Asset Limited, Income constrained, employed. These households earn above the Federal Poverty Level, but less than what it takes to survive in the modern economy. Combined, these households make up 43 percent of America’s 119 million households.
The Project compares 2016 household costs versus incomes at the county level in each state, exposing the failure of calculations based on national averages to accurately represent the extent of financial struggle in America.
“For too long, the magnitude of financial instability in this country has been understated and obscured by misleading averages and outdated poverty calculations,” said John Franklin, president of the Project and CEO of United Way of Northern New Jersey. “It is morally unacceptable and economically unsustainable for our country to have so many hardworking families living paycheck to paycheck. We are all paying a price when ALICE families can't pay the bills.”
The term ALICE was coined to shed light on those essential workers often overlooked by other economic indicators and policy discussions. ALICE is the nation’s child care workers, home health aides and store clerks – those men and women who work at low-paying jobs, have little or no savings and are one emergency from poverty.
The Project is a grassroots movement that seeks to redefine financial hardship in the U.S. by providing comprehensive, unbiased data to help inform policy solutions at all branches of government and in business, academia and nonprofit organizations. Launched by the United Way of Northern New Jersey at the start of the Great Recession, the research is being embraced by United Ways in 18 states, with more expected to join next year.
United Ways and partners are using the data to develop policies, allocate resources and address community needs.
“Despite seemingly positive economic signs, the ALICE data shows that financial hardship is still a pervasive problem.” said Project Director Stephanie Hoopes, Ph.D., who leads the data analysis.
“This research dispels long - standing myths about financial instability by showing that ALICE families exist in every community and among all ages, races and ethnicities,” Hoopes added.
Additional data highlights revealed by the research include:
- More than 30 percent of households in each state cannot afford a basic survival budget – the percentage of struggling families ranges from 32 percent in North Dakota to 49 percent in California, New Mexico and Hawaii.
- The number of ALICE households is larger than the number of households in poverty in all 50 states.
- California, Florida and Texas have the largest number of ALICE households in the country
- Two-thirds of all jobs in the country are low-paying at less than $20 an hour or $40,000 a year, if full time
The Project has been partially funded and supported by the National ALICE Advisory Council, a body of 13 corporate and national organizations that seek to raise awareness and inspire action to improve life for ALICE families. The following are Council members: Aetna Foundation, AT&T, Atlantic Health System, Deloitte, Entergy, Johnson & Johnson, KeyBank, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, OneMain Financial, RWJ Barnabas Health, Thrivent Financial Foundation, UPS, and U.S. Venture.
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