The United Way ALICE Project provides a framework, language, and tools to measure and understand the struggles of a population called ALICE – an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE is the growing number of households in our communities that do not earn enough to afford basic necessities.
The report challenges the assumption that to be working means your household is able to meet all its basic expenses. In this year’s report, we learn that conditions have not improved over the two years since we first introduced ALICE to Iowans. In fact, our ALICE population in Iowa has climbed to 37 percent - meaning nearly 40 percent of Iowa households are facing a continual struggle to meet basic expenses despite working, earning and paying taxes. These workers are doing the jobs we rely on to make our communities run smoothly – they are cashiers, health care workers, child care providers, custodial staff, and customer service employees, and hold countless other vital jobs that make our days easier.
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Key Findings from the United Way ALICE report for Iowa
* 457,044 Iowa households - 37% - struggle to afford basic household expenses
* Federal Poverty Level indicates only 12% of Iowa households faced financial hardship - an ADDITIONAL 25% of households fall below the ALICE Threshold (meeting a household survival budget)
* ALICE households comprise between 19% and 52% of the population in every Iowa county -- in Story County the percentage of ALICE households fall below the ALICE Threshold
* Even with Social Security benefits, 41% of senior households fall below the ALICE Threshold
* Over 109,834 households with children fall below the ALICE Threshold
* The average annual household Survival Budget for a four-person family in Iowa is $56,772, while the Federal Poverty Level for the same family is $24,300
* Childcare represents a family's greatest expense - $928/month for one infant and one preschooler in licensed and accredited childcare; $745 for the same children in registered in-home care
* 68% of Iowa jobs pay less than $20/hour; 48% of those pay between $10 - $15 per hour
* In 2011, 22% of Iowa's households had less than $4,632 in savings or other assets
* Total public and private spending on Iowa households below the ALICE Threshold is $7.2 billion
* 44% of renters spend more than 30% of their household income on rent