Across Wisconsin, 42 percent of households struggle to afford the basic necessities of housing, child care, health care, food, and transportation. In Portage County, this number is 39 percent. United Way of Wisconsin, in partnership with the local United Ways in the state including United Way of Portage County, recently released the ALICE Report to provide a more in-depth look at this statistic.
Who is ALICE?
ALICE, an acronym which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, is a way of defining our families, neighbors, and colleagues (men and women) who work hard, earn above the federal poverty level, but not enough to afford a basic household budget.
ALICE educates our children, keeps us healthy, and makes our quality of life possible. But these low-wage jobs, often in the service sector, do not pay enough for ALICE to live on. These families are forced to make tough choices, such as deciding between quality childcare or paying the rent, which have long-term consequences for ALICE and our communities. The future success of our communities is directly tied to the financial stability of ALICE households.
What is the United Way ALICE Initiative?
The United Way ALICE Initiative is a collaborative research effort identifying and communicating the needs of the voiceless part of our communities; allowing for local change-makers to understand, measure, and advance change to improve the lives of ALICE households, ultimately strengthening our communities.
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. At 39%, Portage County is slightly below the state average. This includes 15% who are living at or below the federal poverty level and 24% who living above the poverty level but below the ALICE threshold.
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.
The bare-minimum survival budget in Portage County for a single adult is $21,780 and for two adults with one infant and one preschooler it is $57,420.