ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. These households have incomes above the Federal Poverty Level but struggle to afford basic household necessities. In the words of Indiana United Ways Board Chair, Ron Turpin, “ALICE gets up each day to go to work, but still faces financial barriers – working jobs that offer no healthcare, vacation, or paid sick leave. These workers hold jobs that are critical to the success and vitality of our communities, yet they often struggle to afford food, rent, child care, and transportation, and have little left over for saving and investing.”
The 2018 ALICE report updates the cost of basic needs in the Household Survival Budget for each county in Indiana and the number of households earning below the amount needed to afford that budget (the ALICE Threshold) for the period of 2010 to 2016. It also highlights emerging trends that will affect ALICE families in the future.
Highlights from the report include:
In 2016, 39 percent of Indiana households live below the ALICE Threshold, meaning they could not afford basic needs such as housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and technology. This is an increase of 10 percent from 2010.
The cost of basic household expenses in Indiana increased steadily to $52,836 for a family of four (two adults with one infant and one preschooler) and $19,620 for a single adult — significantly higher than the FPL of $24,300 for a family of four and $11,880 for a single adult. The cost of the family budget increased by 23 percent from 2010 to 2016.
Low-wage jobs continued to dominate the landscape in Indiana, with 65 percent of all jobs paying less than $20 per hour. Although unemployment rates fell during this period, wages remained low for many occupations. With more contract work and on-demand jobs, job instability also increased, making it difficult for ALICE workers to meet regular monthly expenses or to save.
Emerging trends include:
The Changing American Household — Shifting demographics, including the rise of the millennials, the aging of the baby boomers, and domestic and foreign migration patterns, are having an impact on who is living together in households and where and how people work. These changes, in turn, influence the demand for goods and services, ranging from the location of housing to the provision of caregiving.
Market Instability — Within a global economy, economic disruptions, natural disasters, and technological advances in other parts of the world trigger rapid change across U.S. industries and cause shifts in supply and demand. This will increasingly destabilize employment opportunities for ALICE workers.
Growing Health Inequality — With technological advances in health care outpacing the ability of many households to afford them, there will be increasing disparities in health according to income. The societal costs of having large numbers of U.S. residents in poor health will also grow.