Michigan Association of United Ways Reports 44% of Michigan Children Live in a Household with Income Below the ALICE Threshold

The Michigan Association of United Ways (MAUW) released its first report of the new 2022 ALICE in Focus Series, thanks to the generous support of the Consumers Energy Foundation. The series features three reports, each highlighting a different demographic group within Michigan’s ALICE  – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed – population: Children, those with Disabilities, and Veterans. The first report spotlights children growing up in financial hardship, in households that have an income, but still struggle to afford essentials such as housing, childcare, food, transportation, and healthcare, among other needs.

According to the 2022 ALICE In Focus: Children Report, nearly one million (44%) of Michigan children in 2019 lived in a household with an income below the ALICE Threshold. Of that 44%, 17% lived under the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and 27% earned above the FPL but did not earn enough to afford the basics in the communities where they lived. While there are children below the ALICE Threshold across all demographic groups, the report highlights the stark divide based on race and ethnicity – 71% of Black children and 58% of Hispanic children lived in households below the Threshold, compared to 36% of White children.

“The data in this new spotlight report is critical to inform the decisions we make as a community when developing programs that impact children in ALICE families,” shared Holly Miller, President and CEO at United Way of Midland County. “As an organization, we are committed to digging deep into this research, while continuing to listen to the folks within this population to truly understand how we can support them. It is not our role to prescribe solutions, but to walk alongside our neighbors to learn about the barriers that keep them from living a thriving and financially stable life.”

The Report reveals that children below the ALICE Threshold are concentrated in families where adults work in occupations with low median hourly wages. The 2021 ALICE Report found that 58% of jobs in Michigan paid less than $20, while a family of four needs to earn $32.06 an hour in order to make ends meet. ALICE in Focus confirms that the largest driver of a child’s financial stability is the employment status of household members, but underscores that two working parents or guardians does not guarantee financial stability noting that 23% of Michigan children live in households with two adults in the labor force yet are still below the ALICE Threshold.

The ALICE in Focus Report once again notes that many ALICE families earn too much to be eligible for public assistance, but still struggle to meet basic needs for their children. The Report finds the resources that ALICE children lack includes:

  • Stable Housing – 52% of children in renter households below the ALICE threshold were rent burdened, paying more than 35% of their household income on rent
  • Education 37% of preschool aged children below the ALICE Threshold were enrolled in preschool, compared to 58% of their peers above the Threshold and more than 8,050 Michigan children ages 15-17 were not in school; more than half of these teens (59%) lived in households below the ALICE threshold
  • Health Insurance 4% of children in families below the ALICE threshold did not have coverage, of insured children, 61% of children in families with income below the ALICE Threshold had public insurance, while 88% of children above the Threshold had private insurance
  • Home Internet – Nearly 300,000 children below the ALICE threshold in Michigan did not have access to high-speed internet at home, impacting access to education, learning support programs, and work

United Way of Midland County and United Ways across the state join many stakeholders to invest in programs to give hardworking ALICE families a hand up, which include: high-quality childcare and preschool, 2-1-1 information referral services, housing assistance, access to healthy and affordable food and transportation assistance.

“We have been shining the light on ALICE for many years,” shared Miller. “It’s a complex challenge that no single organization can solve. We bring people together to help address community conditions that give households stability and hope for tomorrow. This new series, ALICE in Focus, helps us to hone in to better understand key groups of people. The full Michigan Report also shows how these children and their families bore the brunt of the pandemic’s physical and emotional toll.”

ALICE in Focus is a national research series using the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS) through the lens of the ALICE measures – the Household Survival Budget and the ALICE Threshold. To view the national results, click here.

You can view results at the state level, as well as regionally in Bay and Midland County (Public Use Microdata Area)—a U.S. Census Bureau geography made up on groupings of about 100,000 people.

About United For ALICE
United For ALICE is a key driver of innovative research and action around financial hardship. The data and analysis are shared with United Way chapters, corporations, foundations, government, and nonprofits to inform policy and promote positive change. United for ALICE partners with the Michigan Association of United Ways to bring the ALICE research to Michigan. For more details about the methodology for the ALICE in Focus Series, please visit www.UnitedForAlice.org/Methodology.