Low-Wage Jobs Prevail, United Way’s ALICE Report Shows

The Michigan Association of United Ways (MAUW) released a second study on the condition of Michigan’s working families, what it has named ALICE households – those that are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.  These are families that are working, but still cannot make ends meet.  In Livingston County 21% of the households qualify as ALICE with another 6% of the households federally qualified as living in poverty.  The report found that low-wage jobs continue to dominate the Michigan employment landscape, with a reported 62% of jobs in the state paying less than $20 per hour, and more than two-thirds of those paying less than $15 per hour. At the same time, the average household budget in the state increased by 18 percent, compared to the national rate of inflation of 14 percent during the same time period.

“United Way is shining a light on the magnitude of ALICE – a complex challenge that no single organization can solve,” said Nancy Lindman, Interim CEO, Michigan Association of United Ways. “We are bringing communities together to help address conditions that will give households a chance to move above the ALICE threshold.”

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Livingston County United Way, and United Ways across the state, work to provide some short- and medium-term solutions for ALICE households. In Livingston County we are working to coordinate scholarships for quality childcare, free tax preparation, eviction diversion and access to healthy food.  In shedding light on the underlying causes keeping ALICE households from getting ahead, Livingston County United Way provides information that will inform discussions with businesses, government agencies, other nonprofits, the faith-based community and residents to create solutions for a stronger county.

Livingston County United Way and the Michigan Association of United Ways join with some 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 struggles and needs of their employees, customers and communities.

The report found that of Michigan’s 3.86 million households, 15 percent lived in poverty in 2015 and another 25 percent were below the ALICE threshold, earning below the average family’s cost of basic needs. At a combined 40 percent, the percentage of households struggling only improved by one percentage point from 2010 to 2012, and has remained flat in the years that followed.

“Consumers Energy works to provide solutions to the Michigan residents we serve, and that includes helping our state’s United Ways to identify and respond to the needs of families across the state,” said Carolyn Bloodworth, secretary/treasurer of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “The new ALICE study illustrates the conditions faced by many individuals and can help guide us and others as we work to serve our communities better.”

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 2014 ALICE study, showing not only continuity but also highlighting United Way’s commitment to this data.

For more information about helping ALICE, contact Livingston County United Way at 810-494-3000 or explore our website.