ALICE Report update: Nearly half of Louisiana households struggle to make ends meet and 47 percent in Southeast Louisiana

Updated ALICE Report details size and scope of financial hardship across Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS – New research shows that in Louisiana, 828,255 households — 48 percent — could not afford basic needs such as housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and technology in 2016, according to the ALICE Report for Louisiana released today by the Louisiana Association of United Ways, in partnership with Louisiana United Ways. Louisiana's percentage of ALICE households puts it at the third highest percentage of all 50 states. 

In Southeast Louisiana, 30 percent of households are ALICE and 17 percent live in poverty as defined by the Federal Poverty guidelines.

The original ALICE Report Update for Louisiana was released in January 2016, with an additional update released in 2017. The new report advances that information by two years, updating data sources from 2014 to 2016. ALICE, which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, places a spotlight on a large population of hardworking residents who work at low-paying jobs, have little or no savings, and are one emergency from falling into poverty.

United Way of Southeast Louisiana President and CEO applauded the ALICE Report for painting a clear picture of financial hardship in our region. “While we witnessed an overall decline in the poverty rate, almost one in two households in Southeast Louisiana is still struggling to make ends meet,” said Williamson. “United Way remains committed to creating more pathways to prosperity for individuals and families to ensure a better, brighter Southeast Louisiana for all.”

The ALICE Report is the most comprehensive depiction of financial need in the state to date, using data from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Census. The report includes measures, based on present-day income levels and expenses that show how many Louisiana workers are struggling financially, and why.

“There are so many Louisiana families walking their personal economic tight ropes with courage, grit and hope,” said Sarah Berthelot, President/CEO of Louisiana Association of United Ways. “However, without the ability to get ahead, they are vulnerable — one set back, one illness, one natural disaster or even one car repair can take away any and all security ALICE has worked to sustain. Until the arrival of the ALICE Project in Louisiana, these hardworking Louisianans were an invisible group.”

The 240-page updated ALICE Report for Southeast Louisiana, representing Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes, reveals many points of data, including:

  • As per the update, 47 percent of households struggle to afford the basic necessities and live below the ALICE Threshold in Southeast Louisiana. The 2016 data shows the number of ALICE households in the seven-parish area at 30 percent while the percentage of poverty is at 17 percent.

  • Levels of hardship vary greatly across all New Orleans neighborhoods. Households in New Orleans with income below the ALICE threshold range from 8 percent in Lakewood to 90 percent or more in Fischer Development, Iberville Development, and B.W. Cooper.

  • ALICE households earn above the poverty level but below the Household Survival Budget, created for ALICE. Childcare, representing a Louisiana family’s greatest expense, averaged $1,098 per month for two children in licensed and accredited childcare in Southeast Louisiana.

  • The average Household Survival Budget (calculation created for the ALICE report) for a Louisiana family of four increased to $58,860 — significantly higher than the federally recognized family poverty level of $24,300. (Single Household Survival Budget is $21,468 with the poverty level set at $11,880.)

  • As of this year, technology expenses (smart phones) are included in the ALICE survival budget. This expense was not included in previous ALICE budget calculations.

  • The newest ALICE data provides information for various family types for all 64 parishes, including married couple, single adult/one child, two adults/two school-aged children, etc. For all Louisiana ALICE data, visit UnitedWaySELA.org/ALICE.  

The ALICE Report provides parish-by-parish, town-level and neighborhood-level (Orleans Parish only) data, and analysis of how many households are struggling.

“This ALICE Report for Louisiana is made possible by generous corporate support from the Entergy Corporation,” said Berthelot. “As our sponsor and as a National ALICE Advisory Council member, Entergy supports ALICE research in our state and around the nation. The Louisiana Association of United Ways is also grateful for the partnership of Louisiana United Ways and the countless governmental, nonprofit and business partners who work to find ways to help ALICE.”

“We must maintain our focus on helping ALICE families obtain education and training to secure living wages,” Williamson continued. “To do so, we are doubling down on our investments in early care and education, workforce development, and re-entry to improve the economic climate for business in our region.

“Ultimately, when the demand for high-wage jobs is present and more ALICE families are prepared for those jobs, we will move the needle on poverty, shifting households away from teetering on the edge of financial ruin and into pathways to prosperity.”

If you, your service organization, your non-profit, government agency or church would like more information about ways to use the ALICE data or work with us on improving the lives of those struggling to make ends meet in our region, please contact us.

“Our team at Entergy is as concerned about keeping power flowing for customers who are struggling financially as we are for those who are without power because of a storm or other issue,” said Patty Riddlebarger, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, Entergy Corporation. “What that means is a commitment to attack the root causes of poverty, which we took on as a corporate cause with the formation of the low-income customer service initiative.” 

The ALICE Report for Louisiana provides high-quality, research-based information to foster a better understanding of who is struggling in our communities. To produce the ALICE Report for Louisiana, a team of researchers for the ALICE Project collaborated with a Research Advisory Committee, composed of 24 representatives from around Louisiana, who advised and contributed to the report. This collaborative model, practiced in each state, ensures each ALICE Report presents unbiased data that is replicable, easily updated on a regular basis, and sensitive to local context. Working closely with United Ways, the ALICE Project seeks to equip communities with information to create innovative solutions.

About United Way of Southeast Louisiana

For more than 90 years, United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) has been a leader and trusted partner in improving lives and making a lasting difference. We fight to eradicate poverty by preparing people for quality jobs, growing incomes, and affording better health and education opportunities throughout Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes. We have a bold vision of equitable communities where all individuals are healthy, educated, and financially stable – and we have a plan. United Way of Southeast Louisiana’s Blueprint for Prosperity guides all strategic investments in programs, initiatives, collaborations, volunteerism, and advocacy aimed at tackling poverty. For more information, please visit UnitedWaySELA.org. Find us on social: @UnitedWaySELA.

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