Research Center • Tennessee
We all know people who are ALICE: Asset 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.
Learn more about how you can get involved in advocating and creating change for ALICE in Tennessee.
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United For ALICE calculates the cost of household essentials for all counties in Tennessee. These costs, outlined in the Household Survival Budget, are calculated for various household sizes and compositions.
Of Tennessee's 2,740,302 households in 2021…
- 14% earned below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)
- 30% were ALICE, in households that earned above the FPL but not enough to afford the basics in the communities where they live
- Together, 44% of households in Tennessee 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. In 2019, 1,211,160 households in Tennessee were below the ALICE Threshold; by 2021, that number had changed to 1,196,900. Use the buttons below to switch between ALICE data over time by number and percentage.
See this data — and more — for all Tennessee counties on the County Reports page.
ALICE Lives in Every Community
ALICE lives in rural, urban, and suburban areas across the state. ALICE household data for Tennessee is available by County (see map below), ZIP code, Census Designated Place, and County Subdivision (on the Maps page) and by Legislative District. You can also compare states and explore national-level data on the National Overview page or download an Excel version of this data.
Within your state, hover over a county to see the total number and percentage of households that were below the FPL (Poverty), were ALICE, or were above the ALICE Threshold in 2021.
|County||Households||% Below ALICE|
See maps with additional locations and topics on the Maps page.
ALICE Households are Diverse, but Financial Hardship is Not Equally Distributed
ALICE households are as diverse as the communities they live in. ALICE household data is available at the state and county levels by race/ethnicity, household composition (families with children, single households), and age of householder. Exploring the demographics of financial hardship highlights inequities in the state and local economy.
For example, the figure below shows the substantial disparities in financial hardship that exist by race/ethnicity.
Households by Race, Tennessee, 2021
View more demographic data — including data by household type and age of householder for the state and counties — on the Demographics page.
ALICE Works Hard, But It’s Not Enough
A key contributor to the number of ALICE households in Tennessee is the fundamental mismatch between the cost of living and what jobs pay. For example, 25% of Driver/Sales Workers And Truck Drivers (the most common occupation in Tennessee) were below the ALICE Threshold in 2021.
Top Occupations, Employment, Wages, and Percentage Below ALICE Threshold, Tennessee, 2021
Learn more about work in the state on the Labor Force page.
ALICE Data Can Inform Action
A catalyst for change, the ALICE research calls us all to action. Partner organizations across the country are using this research to inform programming, policy, evaluation, planning, and more.