They are ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed).
They are parents who can’t afford quality childcare. They are seniors forced to choose between buying food or medication. They are families struggling under the weight of rising prices. They are our family members, our friends and our neighbors.
They are the reason United Way for Southeastern Michigan is working alongside our partners and community to close the gap between what people are earning and the cost of living so that every family, in every ZIP code, has an equal opportunity to thrive.
When ALICE moves from merely surviving to thriving, our entire community wins.
Learning about the ALICE report and this data, I feel like somebody cares. Somebody is actually paying attention to our struggle and trying to do something about it. That’s a good thing.” – Sophia
The 2023 ALICE Report, produced by the Michigan Association of United Ways in association with United for ALICE, reveals the magnitude of financial hardship in Michigan and offers an in-depth look at how ALICE households fared during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report provides a true measurement of how families are faring by comparing household earnings to the true cost of living in our region. It’s a more accurate measurement of household finances than the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), which is based on food prices established in the 1970s and indexed to inflation, meaning it doesn’t capture the reality of essential household expenses like health care, food and child care.
While only 13% of households in Michigan are reported to live at or below the poverty level, an additional 26% of households have incomes below the ALICE survival budget. Combined, these two numbers make up the percentage of total Michigan households that fell below the ALICE Survival Budget Threshold.
Pandemic-era tax credits and stimulus programs, coupled with modest wage increases in some common sectors, helped to soften the blow of the economic and health crisis caused by COVID-19, but even those supports were not enough to pull families above the threshold of income needed to get by. Without these protections, ALICE Households would have fared much worse.
The ALICE survival budget shows the bare minimum costs to afford the basics in our region as of 2021.
For a family of four, that budget is $88,404 — about $7,367 a month, including rent, utilities, child care, food, health care, transportation, technology and taxes.
In 2021, COVID-era tax credits reduced these expenses by $1,267 a month, bringing the survival budget to $73,200.
People need to understand that not all expenses are created equal – like transportation. Just by living in a certain ZIP code, you’re charged more for insurance and have to go further – meaning buy more gas – to access quality food, grocery stores, etc.” – Camille