We all know ALICE. ALICE is the person who lives next door; sits with us at our kids’ sporting events; takes care of our mom in the nursing home; greets us in the morning as we get our coffee at the drive-thru and serves us food in a restaurant. We don’t notice ALICE because they look like us.
ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE is hard-working, employed people who don’t make enough to meet their basic living expense and are above the poverty level. ALICE works in jobs that are vital to our economy. In Allen County, 40 percent of residents are ALICE and poverty.
The ALICE Report takes an in-depth look at working people in Ohio and the realities of the challenges they face. ALICE is in every county in Ohio and all demographic groups.
To meet the cost to just survive in Allen County with the basics of housing, food, transportation, health care, child care, taxes and miscellaneous costs, including cleaning supplies and work clothes, a single person would need to earn $17,964 a year. A family of four with two adults, an infant and a preschooler would need to earn $61,080 or $30.54 per hour.
More women than men are ALICE for many reasons. Even though women make up half of the U.S. workforce, receive more college and graduate degrees and are the primary breadwinners in 4 out of 10 households they continue to earn significantly less— 78 cents on the dollar compared to men in comparable jobs. Male-dominated occupations tend to pay more than female-dominated occupations with similar skill levels.
As our population ages, more ALICE seniors will be women. Women in general have worked less and earned less, so they have smaller or no pensions and lower Social Security retirement benefits. Because women live longer than men, they are more likely to be single and depend on one income as they age. Nationally in 2012, 46 percent of women over 65 were married, compared to 73 percent of men.
Over the past 50 years, our economy has seen a significant increase in working mothers. In 1967, 27.5 percent of mothers were the primary or co-breadwinners for their families. By 2012, 63.3 percent of mothers were at least 25 percent of their families’ incomes, and 46 percent of two-parent households were working full-time. While families have greater income and diversified income, women still earn less, and work scheduling policies create challenges for pursing education, caregiving or workforce training.
As our community gets to know ALICE and understands the challenges hard-working people face, ALICE will become more than a faceless statistic. United Way’s role is to bring people together from all sectors of the community to address community issues. Our goal is to create a dialogue with the facts and understanding to find solutions assist ALICE.
For more information on ALICE, visit unitedwaylima.org.
Carol Braden-Clarke is the president of the United Way of Greater Lima.