ALICE is a United Way acronym which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. It 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 an under-recognized population that is struggling financially, and the reasons why. These measurements provide a broader picture of financial insecurity than traditional federal poverty guidelines. United Ways in Wisconsin plan to use the objective report, which includes state and county level data, to educate communities and shape practices. 



Core Report Statistics- by comparing real incomes with real expenses, the United Way ALICE Project reveals this stark reality:

  • 42% of Wisconsin households are living on the edge of financial insecurity.
  • In Wisconsin, 42% of households live below the ALICE threshold- about 13% live below the poverty level and another 29% are above poverty, but below the basic cost of living.
  • ALICE households are working, but struggle to afford the basics of housing, food, health care, child care, and transportation.
  • There are nearly 670,922 ALICE households in Wisconsin, more than double the official poverty rate. Including those in poverty, there are nearly 960,131 households unable to make ends meet in Wisconsin.
  • More than two-thirds of Wisconsin's municipalities have more than 30% of households unable to afford life's basic necessities.
  • Despite working and receiving financial supports, ALICE still faces a 21% fap in the income needed to be able to survive and afford the basics in Wisconsin.

Who is ALICE in our community?

  • These families and individuals have jobs, but many do not qualify for social services or support.
  • ALICE holds jobs that are critical to the success of our communities- child care workers, laborers and movers, home health aides, heavy truck drivers, store clerks and office assistants-yet, they are not sure if they will be able to put dinner on the table each night.
  • There is a systemic problem that will not be solved by one "magic bullet"- policymakers, academics, business and social service agencies need to work together to address long-term systemic change.
  • ALICE families with children include both married, and single parents- 30% are married couples, 53% are headed by single women, and 17% by single men.
  • 89% of ALICE households are headed by someone who is white. There is no "typical" ALICE household.
  • The entire community is affected by the challenges that ALICE families face, and once those challenges improve, the entire community will benefit. 

What does the ALICE Project do?

  • Produces Current Research- quality, unbiased data and regular updates.
  • Builds Action- easy to understand and actionable for all community sectors to make an impact.
  • Leads a Community- over 300 United Ways and 14 states are involved in the project.
  • Supports the United Way Building Blocks- our focus on education, income, and health.

What is the household survival budget?

  • The household survival budget quantifies the cost of housing, child care, food, healthcare, and transportation in each county.
  • It is a bare-minimum budget. Every line item has been the most conservative estimate based on the cost of living in each county. 
  • The miscellaneous category, 10% of all costs, covers overflow from basic needs; it is not enough to provide for clothes, cell phone, cable, or automotive or appliance repairs. There is no room in the budget for financial indulgences that many families enjoy.
  • The survival budget in Wisconsin is more than double the U.S. poverty level- the average annual household survival budget for a Wisconsin family of four is $54,808- that's more than double the U.S. family poverty level of $23,850.
  • This budget does not allow for any savings, leaving an ALICE family more vulnerable to an unexpected expense, such as a costly car repair or health issue.
Click the image below to put yourself in the shoes of a typical ALICE family.
You will experience several of the tough choices an ALICE family will have to routinely make.