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Research Center

National Overview

We all know people who are ALICEAsset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed — earning more than the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to afford the basics where they live. ALICE workers were celebrated as essential heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet they do not earn enough to support their own families.

ALICE households and households in poverty are forced to make tough choices, such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent — choices that have long-term consequences not only for their families, but for all.

In order to better understand this growing population, United For ALICE provides a framework, language, statistics, and tools that community stakeholders can use to inform policy and drive innovation. The Research Center is the hub of UnitedForALICE.org — a one-stop source for exploring the latest ALICE data, on a national scale down to the local level in our partner states. Use the tabs below to navigate the Research Center.

National Overview – 2021

United For ALICE calculates the cost of household essentials for all counties in the U.S. These costs, outlined in the Household Survival Budget, are calculated for various household sizes and compositions.

Of the 126,903,920 households in the U.S. in 2021…

  • 13% earned below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)
  • 29% were ALICE, in households that earned above the FPL but not enough to afford the basics in the communities where they live
  • Together, 41% of households in the U.S. were below the ALICE Threshold (poverty + ALICE divided by total households)

While the COVID-19 pandemic brought employment shifts, health struggles, and school/business closures in 2021, it also spurred unprecedented public assistance through pandemic relief measures. Before the pandemic, in 2019, 49,791,793 households were below the ALICE Threshold; by 2021 that number had changed to 52,539,023.

State-Level Details, 2021

This interactive map provides four data points for each state and county:

  • Total number of households
  • Percentage of households in poverty
  • Percentage of ALICE households
  • Percentage of households above the ALICE Threshold

National Comparison, 2021

This interactive figure compares the percentage of households that live below the ALICE Threshold in each state in 2021. State averages are shown in gold. The percentage of the population that is below the ALICE Threshold within each county is represented by the blue boxes. This visual shows the variation in financial hardship that exists across and within states.

National Demographics, 2021

This interactive figure shows the demographic breakdown of poverty-level, ALICE, and above ALICE Threshold households in 2021 at the national level. Data shown below include households by age, household type, race/ethnicity, and rural/urban area.