A.L.I.C.E. Study: More Michiganders struggle to afford basic needs

Suggestions for policymakers looking to help the working poor in Michigan could include increasing access to high-quality child care, investing in K-12 education, removing barriers to employment and increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit, according to the Michigan Association of United Ways.

Family poverty

More Michiganders, especially seniors, are struggling to afford basic needs, from food and housing to child care and transportation.

That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Michigan Association of United Ways, released Wednesday, that aims to identify the barriers the working poor — which the group identifies as ALICE, for “asset-limited, income-constrained, employed” — face in making ends meet.

This year’s report, using data from 2017, suggests there may be a silver lining amid the clouds: While 29 percent of Michigan’s 3.9 million households are considered to be ALICE, up from 25 percent two years earlier, a smaller percentage of households are living in poverty (14 percent, from 15 percent two years ago).

That’s promising, said Mike Larson, president and CEO of the Michigan Association of United Ways. Michigan’s unemployment rate is low, signaling more people are working, and it’s likely that households once in poverty now earn enough to be considered among the working poor.

Even so, they’re still in tough financial shape, Larson said. And the ALICE population is growing, too, because some households that previously had gotten by lost ground, due in part to stagnant wages and a rising costs of living, according to the report.



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