You know all those reports about how lots of Americans can't afford a $1000 surprise expense like a medical bill or a car repair? Well, forget additional expenses. It turns out that nearly half of the families in America are struggling to pay for food and rent. And that means that the economic collapse isn't just "coming." It's HERE.
United Way has done a study on a group of Americans they call ALICE: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. The study found that this group does not make the money needed "to survive in the modern economy."
ALICE is your child care worker, your parent on Social Security, the cashier at your supermarket, the gas attendant, the salesperson at your big box store, your waitress, a home health aide, an office clerk. ALICE cannot always pay the bills, has little or nothing in savings, and is forced to make tough choices such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent. One unexpected car repair or medical bill can push these financially strapped families over the edge.
ALICE is a hardworking member of the community who is employed yet does not earn enough to afford the basic necessities of life.
ALICE earns above the federal poverty level but does not earn enough to afford a bare-bones household budget of housing, child care, food, transportation, and healthcare. (source)
Between families living below the poverty line due to unemployment or disability and ALICEs, the study discovered that 43% of Americans were struggling to cover basic necessities like rent and food.
Where are families struggling the most?
Some states have more families living in ALICE levels than others. The 3 states with the most families barely surviving paycheck to paycheck are California, New Mexico, and Hawaii. Each of these states saw 49% of families struggling. North Dakota had the lowest ALICE percentage with 32%. You can check how your state fares right here. Despite the lowest unemployment rate since 2000, families all over the country are barely getting by.