ACROSS BERRIEN AND CASS COUNTIES, 40 PERCENT OF HOUSEHOLDS STRUGGLE TO AFFORD THE BASIC NECESSITIES OF HOUSING, CHILD CARE, FOOD, HEALTH CARE AND TRANSPORTATION.
That's why United Way of Southwest Michigan and United Ways across all of Michigan, with help from the Consumers Energy Foundation, have come together to bring you the ALICE Project. Standing for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed -- ALICE represents those in our communities who are working yet struggling to make ends meet.
The ALICE Report is the most comprehensive depiction of need in Michigan to date. By unveiling new metrics including the ALICE Threshold, Household Survival Budget and Economic Viability Dashboard, our communities now have the proper tools to discuss need around the state.
First released in September 2014, an updated ALICE Report was released in April 2017. The launch of the ALICE Report provided us with a greater understanding of the struggles that hard working members of our communities fact and the newly updated Report shows that many Michiganders are still struggling.
THE UPDATED UNITED WAY ALICE REPORT REVEALS THE FINANCIAL HARDSHIPS OF MANY MICHIGAN HOUSEHOLDS.
1.53 MILLION HOUSEHOLDS - 40% OF THE MICHIGAN POPULATION - CANNOT AFFORD BASIC HOUSEHOLD NECESSITIES.
Households across Michigan, comprised of all races, genders, and ages, cannot afford the basics - housing, child care, food, health care and transportation. When households face difficult economic conditions and cannot afford basic necessities, they are forced to make difficult choices and take risks that have consequences for their households and their communities.
THE BASIC COST OF HOUSEHOLD EXPENSES HAS INCREASED STEADILY IN EVERY COUNTY IN MICHIGAN SINCE 2007. THE AVERAGE BUDGET ROSE BY 18% - HIGHER THAN THE NATIONAL LEVEL OF INFLATION OF 14%.
Single adults now need an annual salary of just over $18,000, while a family of four needs an annual salary of over $56,000 - just to afford the basics.
LOW WAGE JOBS REPRESENT THE MAJORITY OF JOBS IN MICHIGAN - 62% OF ALL JOBS IN THE STATE PAY LESS THAN $20 PER HOUR. MORE THAN 2/3 OF THESE JOBS PAY LESS THAN $15 PER HOUR.
Low wages for ALICE households make it more difficult to meet their basic budget. Further, low wages mean that ALICE households cannot afford to save. Ultimately, ALICE families have both the greatest risk of job loss and the least access to resources to soften the blow.
THERE IS A $7 BILLION GAP BETWEEN ADDITIONAL OR WORK SUPPORTS NEEDED TO BRING THE 1.53 MILLION HOUSEHOLDS ABOVE THE ALICE THRESHOLD.
It is often assumed that ALICE households have savings to draw upon in an emergency or have access to public assistance as a last resort. However, most ALICE households have little or no savings and are not typically eligible for public and private assistance because their earnings are above qualifying limits.
CHILD CARE AFFORDABILITY AND ACCESSIBILITY REMAINS A CHALLENGE FOR MICHIGAN FAMILIES, REPRESENTING 24% OF THEIR MONTHLY BUDGET.
In the Household Survival Budget for a family of four, child care accounts for 24% of the family budget. Yet for many ALICE households, 24% of earned income is not enough to pay for even home-based child care, the least expensive organized care option. When parents cannot work due to limited or inaccessible child care, consequences are twofold - the child may not gain pre-learning skills necessary for success in kindergarten and beyond, and the parent has to forgo work, limiting future earning potential.
EMERGING TRENDS IN MICHIGAN'S POPULATION AND JOBS COULD CHANGE THE LANDSCAPE FOR ALICE FAMILIES.
Several fundamental changes to our economic climate, including an aging population, racial and ethnic disparities, low wage jobs and increased automation, could dramatically affect Michigan's economic landscape.
THE BOTTOM LINE
ALICE households are forced to make difficult choices such as skipping preventative health care, accredited child care, healthy food or car insurance. These "savings" threaten their health, safety, and future - and they reduce Michigan's economic productivity and raise insurance premiums and taxes for everyone. The costs are high for both ALICE families and the wider community.
United Way's in Michigan have come together to release the ALICE Report because recognizing the magnitude of the number of households facing financial hardship, as well as the different types of households and problems they confront, will make more effective change possible.