Making Tough Choices
Who is ALICE?
With limited income, ALICE families are forced to make tough choices, such as choosing between quality childcare or paying the rent. This has long-term consequences for ALICE and our communities. The future success of our communities is directly tied to the financial stability of ALICE households.
In September 2016, United Way of Wisconsin unveiled its first statewide ALICE Report, a data-driven, comprehensive research project upending the conventional view of Wisconsin. The fact is that the number of Wisconsin households who are unable to afford life’s basic necessities far exceeds the official federal poverty statistics. Before this report, ALICE was a population and community issue without a name or face. While it is true that ALICE has existed long before this study, it was not until the release of this Report that there was any way to discuss the plight of these households, nonetheless quantify them.
Core Report Statistics
- By comparing real incomes with real expenses, the United Way ALICE Project reveals this stark reality: 42% of Wisconsin households are living on the edge of financial insecurity.
- In Wisconsin, 42% of households live below the ALICE threshold – about 13% live below the poverty level and another 29% are above poverty but below the basic cost of living.
- ALICE households are working, but struggle to afford the basics of housing, food, health care, child care, and transportation.
- There are nearly 670,922 ALICE households in Wisconsin, more than double the official poverty rate. Together, with those in poverty, there are nearly 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.