COVID-19 AND ALICE

UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed critical shortcomings in our economy and intensified hardship for many households who were already struggling. Before the pandemic, 42% of U.S. households were already unable to make ends meet. This includes households with income below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and households who are ALICE (Asset, Limited, Income, Constrained, Employed). With income above the FPL, ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households earn too much to qualify as “poor” but are still unable to cover basic household expenses in the counties where they live.

Our new Report, The Pandemic Divide: An ALICE Analysis of National COVID Surveys, provides the first look at the impact of the pandemic on ALICE households. The Report reveals that experiences and realities diverged during the pandemic: ALICE families fared significantly worse than higher-income households — financially, physically, and emotionally.

This research — along with the ALICE & COVID-19 Tracker and other resources on this page — aims to shed light on the experiences of ALICE households, fill gaps left by traditional economic measures, and help policymakers and community stakeholders make data-informed decisions to address the root causes of financial hardship.

ALICE MEASURES CAN GUIDE RECOVERY

By more accurately identifying need, the ALICE measures can guide better policies and practices to help families weather the current crisis. COVID-19 shows how exposed ALICE households — and therefore all our communities and businesses — are to an emergency. We know that:

ALICE WORKERS ARE MORE VULNERABLE:

The pandemic has created two groups of ALICE workers: those who are essential and still working, typically on-site; and those who are non-essential, who are now working far fewer hours or not at all.

View More...

  • Essential ALICE workers continue to keep our infrastructure running and take care of COVID-19 patients and others needing health care
    • Many do not have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), so they are risking their health — and their families’ health
    • Some employers have stepped up and are providing “hero’s pay,” but even $2 per hour more does not bring most ALICE workers to financial stability
    • Despite the ongoing economic slowdown, some employers have already pulled back "hero’s pay"
    • Even essential ALICE workers are still struggling paycheck to paycheck
  • For many non-essential ALICE workers, the economic slowdown has severely reduced employment
    • The industries where ALICE works – food service, leisure, hospitality, tourism – have been hit the hardest
    • ALICE is more likely to work in small businesses, which on average offer lower wages and fewer benefits, and have been hit hardest by the pandemic: The number of small businesses open in the U.S. decreased by 19.1% between January and August 2020
    • Black and Hispanic ALICE workers are facing even higher rates of unemployment
    • With less access to the internet and computers, ALICE workers have more difficulty working from home

BLACK ALICE HOUSEHOLDS ARE AT GREATER RISK:

Black people are contracting COVID-19 at higher rates and dying at higher rates than their White counterparts. These disparities are being fed by multiple factors:

View More...

  • Black households are more likely to face financial hardship: 60% of Black households are unable to afford basic household essentials in their communities — nearly double the rate of White households
  • Black families remain disproportionately likely to live in substandard housing in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty — those with few grocery stores, banks, parks, or recreation facilities, with inadequate health care services and under-resourced public schools, and with high levels of violence and exposure to environmental hazards
  • Black households and communities have long faced institutional barriers to quality health care

ALICE FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN FACE ADDITIONAL HARDSHIPS:

Almost one in four families with children in the U.S. have income below the ALICE Threshold. They are especially vulnerable to the disruptions that accompany child care, school, and university closures.

View More...

  • More than one-quarter of households below the ALICE Threshold do not have adequate internet access, compromising participation in e-learning
  • Parents who need to work cannot stay at home with their children, leading to health and safety issues for unsupervised children or jeopardizing a parent’s ability to work
  • ALICE families can lose access to other supports, such as free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches provided at school

ALICE SENIORS FACE GREATER RISKS:

People over the age of 60 are the age group most susceptible to serious illness from COVID-19. Half of seniors in the U.S. have income below the ALICE Threshold; they have no extra income and little or no savings to cover extra health care costs.

View More...

  • More than 40% of U.S. coronavirus deaths are linked to nursing homes, which puts both ALICE seniors and ALICE health care workers at higher risk
  • ALICE seniors are at higher risk of loneliness and isolation, and as the pandemic continues, they also risk declining nutrition and health as social distancing limits trips to the grocery store and preventative care visits
  • When senior centers close, ALICE seniors and their families must navigate additional burdens, such as taking on caregiving responsibilities and adapting to the loss of supports like hot meals and social activity

COVID-19 RESOURCES: THE CONSEQUENCES FOR ALICE FAMILIES

As outlined in detail in the 2019 Consequences of Insufficient Household Income Report, ALICE families face tough choices when they do not have enough income or assistance to afford basic necessities. The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated and shifted the challenges and risks to a family’s immediate health, safety, and financial stability. While the crisis is still unfolding, we share here some resources to track the pandemic’s impact on the six essential areas of a household budget — housing, child care and education, food, transportation, health care, and technology — as well as on jobs and income. We also offer a variety of resources for tracking COVID-19 data.

HOUSING

CHILD CARE AND EDUCATION

FOOD

TRANSPORTATION

HEALTH CARE

TECHNOLOGY

JOBS AND INCOME

COVID-19 DATA/RATES

ARCHIVED RESOURCES/LINKS

June 2020:


May 2020:


April 2020:


Undated: