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Research Center

ALICE In Focus Series

Children in Financial Hardship

The number of children growing up in financial hardship in the U.S. is drastically higher than is widely reported. According to the outdated Federal Poverty Level, 16% of children in the U.S. lived in poverty in 2019. Yet United For ALICE data shows that another 33% — twice as many — were also growing up in hardship, in households that earned above the poverty level but less than what is costs to afford the basics. These households are ALICE: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.

The reality is that between families in poverty and those who are ALICE, almost half (49%) of children in the U.S. in 2019 lived in households with income below the ALICE Threshold, struggling to afford essentials in the communities where they lived.

The tabs below offer a more detailed view of children growing up in financial hardship.

ALICE Children Data Dashboard

The ALICE Children Data Dashboard puts the data about children and hardship at your fingertips. The Dashboard shows the number and percentage of children in 2019 who lived in households with:

  • Income below the Federal Poverty Level (Poverty)
  • Income above the Federal Poverty Level but below what is needed to afford the cost of basic expenses (ALICE)
  • Income above the cost of basics (Above ALICE Threshold)

Children below the ALICE Threshold include both those in poverty and those in ALICE households.

With the first Dashboard tool, you can explore the data on children in financial hardship by category, including age, race/ethnicity, nativity, disability status, living arrangements, and other parameters.

How to Use This Tool

  • Select an ALICE Partner State or select 'U.S.' to see national data
  • Select a Category (like Age, Race/Ethnicity, or Disability Status)
  • Hover over the bar graph to see the number and percentage of children in each group
  • View the table below the bars to see the number of children in each group

With the second Dashboard tool, you can combine categories (such as school-age children who are Black and have a disability).

How to Use This Tool

  • Select an ALICE Partner State or select 'U.S.' to see national data
  • Use the drop-down menus to select variables across different categories (like "School-Age", "Black" and "With a Disability")
  • The pie chart will change based on your selections to show the percentage and number of children in poverty-level, ALICE, or Above ALICE Threshold households

Technical Details

  • Sources: ALICE Threshold, 2019; U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, PUMS, 2019.
  • Rounding: Percentages in the ALICE Children Data Dashboard may differ +/- 1% from percentages included in the state and national Research Briefs due to rounding. Total numbers are presented in the dashboard for calculation.
  • Race/Ethnicity: All racial categories except Two or More Races are for one race alone, non-Hispanic. The Hispanic group may include households of any race.
  • Selected Variables: All variables in this dashboard come from the American Community Survey. To see how these variables are defined and named in this dashboard, download the DATA DICTIONARY
  • Missing Data and Grand Totals: Any group with 500 or fewer children is suppressed (not shown) to maintain accuracy and confidentiality. Grand totals exclude any sub-populations that are too small to display (sums in column).