Nearly a third of Livingston County households — about 22,500 of them — can’t afford basic needs such as housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and technology, despite overall improvement in employment and gains in median income.
That’s according to the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained Employed) report released by the Michigan Association of United Ways and the Livingston County United Way.
The report found that ALICE households now make up 26 percent percent of Livingston County, while households in poverty make up another 5 percent. The cost of the average Michigan family budget also increased by 27 percent from 2010 to 2017, despite a low rate of inflation nationwide — 12 percent during the same time frame. Low wages, reduced work hours and depleted savings are among the challenges for Michigan’s working families.
“Here in Livingston County we know all too well the challenges ALICE families face,” said Nancy Rosso, executive director of Livingston County United Way. “It’s critical that community organizations, business leaders and policymakers work in tandem to help Michigan’s hardworking families overcome the obstacles to make ends meet. The ALICE Report is an important step toward paving a path forward for our state.”
Although unemployment rates are falling, the report found that low-wage jobs dominate the employment landscape, with 61 percent of all jobs in Michigan paying less than $20 per hour. At the same time, an increase in contract jobs and on-demand jobs is leading to less financial stability. For the many households that earned slightly above the ALICE threshold in the past, increases in the cost of living and flat wages have pushed them below the threshold and into financial hardship.
Livingston County United Way joins with roughly 450 United Ways from 15 states across the country to better understand the struggles of ALICE. Various organizations across the country are also using this data to better understand the needs of their employees, customers and communities.
To produce the United Way ALICE Report for Michigan, a national team of researchers collaborated with the Michigan Research Advisory Committee, composed of representatives from across the state, who advised and contributed to the report. The report focuses on providing objective, comprehensive county-by-county data that identifies the size of the ALICE population in Michigan and works to identify the obstacles that keep these residents from achieving financial independence. The current report builds on data found in the 2017 ALICE study, showing not only continuity but also highlighting United Way’s commitment to this data.
Livingston County United Way currently works to provide some short- and medium-term solutions for ALICE households, such as offering scholarships to access quality child care, promoting free tax preparation and financial and career mentoring, and eviction diversion.
The new report can be accessed online on our website at www.lcunitedway.org. To learn more about the local work supporting ALICE, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.