ALICE in hunger-land

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

Do you know ALICE? 

If you're employed, but still don't make enough for your basic needs and don't own many assets, you know ALICE even if you don't think you do. 

The acronym stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed and it's the center of a new report released last week by United Way. 

Technically, ALICE households are those "with income above the Federal Poverty Level but below the basic cost of living." 

The Federal Poverty Level in Illinois is $24,600 for a family of four and $12,060 for a single adult.

The poverty level is far below what the United Way calls the bare-minimum Household Survival Budget, which defines who meets the ALICE threshold. The Household Survival Budget is what individuals and families need to meet basic costs of living.

In Illinois in 2016, the survival budget for a single adult is $19,212, or $9.61/hour. For a household of two adults, an infant and a preschooler, the survival budget is $57,144, or $28.57/hour, according to the United Way. 

While 12 percent of Illinois residents are in poverty, 24 percent of residents fall within the ALICE threshold. 

In Oak Park in 2017, 10 percent of the village's 21,529 households were in poverty while 17 percent fell somewhere within the ALICE threshold. In River Forest, 5 percent of the village's 3,909 households were in poverty while 14 percent were within the ALICE threshold, according to the United Way report. 

Keep in mind, the United Way's survival budget includes the cost of housing, food, transportation, healthcare and child care. It doesn't include savings. 

Another interesting nugget included in the study: Millennials (people born between 1981 and 1996) "cannot afford to live on their own. Instead, they are more likely than previous generations to live with their parents or with roommates. In Illinois, 36 percent of millennials lived with their parents in 2015, higher than the national average of 33 percent. Nationally, for the first time in more than a century, millennials are also less likely to be living with a romantic partner."


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