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ALICE: Asset Limited, Income Constrained- Employed or The Working Poor

Working Poor

Between 2010 and 2013, the total number of the labor force below poverty in Iowa hovered around 8% whereas the Des Moines Urban Core experiences more than twice that rate at approximately 22%. Similarly, the total employed population who are below 100 % of poverty rate has increased in Iowa, however, the opposite can be said for the urban core. The percentage of employed individuals who are below 100 % of poverty has dropped from 20.6 % to 17.2 %. Highlight this point! See chart: Total labor force who are below poverty (16 and over)

Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE)

A phenomenon that can minimize this impact and leave working families without sufficient income to sustain their family is defined as “the working poor.”  United Way of Central Iowa is part of a statewide effort in which the United Ways have partnered with United Way of Northern New Jersey and Rutgers University to participate in ALICE, a study of the working poor in each Iowa county that will help to address this stressed population in an effort to advocate and provide support.

 

From the United Way website: ALICE, a United Way acronym which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, represents the growing number of individuals and families who are working, but are unable to afford the basic necessities of housing, food, child care, health care, and transportation. Through a series of new, standardized measurements, United Way is quantifying the size of the workforce in each state that is struggling financially, and the reasons why. These measurements provide a broader picture of financial insecurity than traditional federal poverty guidelines.

ALICE: A Grassroots Movement

Building on a project first initiated in 2009 at United Way of Northern New Jersey, United Ways in several other states joined the United Way ALICE Project in 2014. This grassroots movement is gaining momentum in local communities and nationally across the country and several new reports are in development. With significant press coverage, a fresh, nonpartisan dialogue has started about the importance and fragility of ALICE across the country. United Ways involved in ALICE can use the reports as the framework for their work in improving their residents’ lives and strengthening their communities. Community partners including government agencies, nonprofits and corporations are also making use to this new data to improve the lives of ALICE families. Community partners including government agencies, nonprofits and corporations are also making use to this new data to improve the lives of ALICE families.

Why ALICE Matters

ALICE workers are essential to the fabric of our society. ALICE works in jobs that are integral to our communities, from child care educators and home health aides to mechanics – all workers we rely on every day. The future success of our communities is directly tied to the financial stability of ALICE households. When ALICE suffers and is forced to make difficult choices, we all face serious consequences.

 

Table 1-Total labor force who are below poverty (16 and over)

2010

2011

2012

2013

Iowa

131,000

8.0%

 133,623

8.2%

 138,390

8.5%

 138,496

8.6%

Central

Iowa

 18,913

6.2%

 19,491

6.4%

 22,411

7.3%

 23,236

7.5%

Polk

 16,163

6.7%

 17,222

7.1%

 19,393

8.0%

 20,198

8.2%

Urban Core

 2,347

22.0%

 2,327

21.1%

 2,549

23.0%

 2,510

21.0%

Table 2-Total employed population who are below 100% of poverty (16 and over)

Iowa

 104,614

6.8%

 102,480

6.7%

 107,770

7.1%

 109,650

7.2%

Central Iowa

 14,457

5.0%

 13,550

4.7%

 16,138

5.6%

 16,822

5.7%

Polk

 12,291

5.4%

 11,868

5.2%

 13,924

6.1%

 14,428

6.2%

Urban Core

 2,004

20.6%

 1,885

18.8%

 1,926

19.5%

 1,811

17.2%

Table 3-Total unemployed population who are below 100% of poverty (16 and over)

Iowa

 26,416

29.9%

 31,143

31.4%

 30,620

32.5%

 28,846

33.7%

Central

Iowa

 4,456

28.4%

 5,941

31.8%

 6,273

33.7%

 6,414

35.3%

Polk

 3,872

29.4%

 5,354

33.6%

 5,469

34.6%

 5,770

37.0%

Urban Core

 343

36.7%

 442

44.4%

 623

50.7%

 699

49.0%

Source: U.S. Census, American Community Survey