Meet ALICE in the Capital Region

Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed

View the full ALICE report at

United for ALICE Project

The United For ALICE Project is a nationwide effort to provide a more accurate picture of financial insecurity at the state, county, and municipal level. It provides a framework, language, and tools to measure and understand the struggles of a population called ALICE — an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. 

ALICE earns above the federal poverty level but does not earn enough to afford a bare-bones household budget of housing, childcare, food, transportation, and health care. The United For ALICE Project raises awareness about this huge but hidden segment of our community that is struggling.

The most recent data from the ALICE project, released in August 2020, is based on data collected for 2018. In the seven-county region that United Way of the Greater Capital Region serves1, 30% of households are ALICE. These are in addition to the 11% of households that live below the federal poverty line within the Capital Region. Together, these households account for 41% of our region’s population. County averages shown in Figure 1 below.

Every layer of disadvantage and inequity that ALICE households were living in 2018, before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, are only intensified now during this public health and economic crisis. ALICE data provides the backstory for why the COVID-19 crisis is having such a devastating and disproportionate impact now and how important it is to pay attention to this as we rebuild. 

ALICE Household Survival Budget: Capital Region

Traditional economic measures systematically underestimate the actual cost of basic needs and how quickly they increase over time, concealing important aspects of the local and national economy. The Household Survival Budget is based on extremely conservative cost estimates for the bare minimum necessities in the Capital Region: housing, childcare, food, transportation, health care, technology costs, and taxes plus an overall 10% for miscellaneous expenses. Figure 2 below, breaks this budget down per household type. It sums up the total monthly budget and indicates the minimum hourly wage needed to sustain this budget, for instance, $13.84 per hour for a single adult. Those households whose income is below that required to sustain a survival budget are referred to as living below the ALICE Threshold.

Some groups are more likely to become ALICE

There are ALICE Households of all ages, genders, races, and ethnicities, living in urban, rural, and suburban areas. Yet, some groups represent a disproportionate percentage of those living below the ALICE threshold, shown in Figure 3 below. Households who are more likely to be ALICE are also more likely to be disproportionately represented among the victims of COVID-19.

ALICE Households with Children

Children add significant expense to a family budget, so it is not surprising that many families with children live below the ALICE Threshold, especially those with a single parent. 75% of single female-headed households in the Capital Region are below the ALICE threshold. 

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, childcare is affordable if it costs no more than 7% of a family’s income. In the Capital Region, childcare for one child takes up 28% of the median family’s income. Families with two children face an even larger burden, as childcare for two children takes up 56% of the median family’s income.

ALICE Households’ Disparities by Race/Ethnicity

When we break down the ALICE data by race/ethnicity, the disparities are glaring. In the Capital Region, 66% of Black households and 55% of Hispanic households are below the ALICE threshold. Comparatively, 35% of White households are below the ALICE threshold. (New York State ALICE Report 2020). 

ALICE Households’ Disparities by Age

There are ALICE households in every age bracket. The youngest (people under 25) are more likely to be in poverty, and both the youngest and the oldest (people 65 and older) are more likely to be ALICE. 48% of senior households in the Capital Region are below the ALICE threshold.

United For ALICE

The ALICE data is especially important now to help government, business, non-profit, educational, and community leaders identify those who are struggling the most in their communities, and direct programming and resources to assist them throughout the pandemic and the recovery that follows. As the country and the Capital Region move forward, this data can be used to estimate the impact of the crisis over time, providing an important baseline for changes to come.

The need to rebuild better is clear.