Who is ALICE?

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Contributor: Nanci Micke, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at United Way Fox Cities

ALICE, an acronym which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, is a way of defining our families, neighbors, and colleagues who work hard, earn above the federal poverty level, but not enough to afford a basic household budget. ALICE is vulnerable to just one emergency – one car repair, one health issue, one harsh storm. The questions become, “Do I get a payday loan to get the kids ready for school? Do I pay the utilities or pay rent? Do I buy my medications or put dinner on the table?”
United Way of Wisconsin, with its research partners, has applied a series of new, standardized measurements that quantify who in Wisconsin’s workforce is living on the edge of financial insecurity and the reasons why. The report provides a comprehensive picture of the financial need across Wisconsin that goes beyond traditional, limited federal guidelines.
The United Way ALICE Report reveals:

  • 42% of Wisconsin households can’t afford the basics of housing, food, health care, child care, and transportation, despite working.
  • There are nearly 670,922 ALICE households in Wisconsin, more than double the official poverty rate. Together, with those in poverty, there are 960,131 households unable to make ends meet in Wisconsin.
  • More than two-thirds of Wisconsin's municipalities have more than 30 percent of households unable to afford life’s basic necessities.
  • Despite working and receiving financial supports, ALICE still faces a 21% gap in the income needed to be able to survive and afford the basics in Wisconsin.

United Ways are using the ALICE report to educate and engage the community about strategies for long-term systemic change. We recognize and thank Thrivent Financial Foundation and U.S. Venture for funding the ALICE Project in Wisconsin.

To learn more, access the full ALICE Study online and listen to a radio interview with Nanci Micke and Jenni Eickelberg on WHBY's Fresh Take with Josh Dukelow.