New ALICE research: 66% of Southeast Louisiana’s Black Children Lived in Financial Hardship Pre-Pandemic
New report, interactive tools reveal federal poverty data undercounts how many children of all races are growing up amid financial insecurity.
NEW ORLEANS - The majority of Southeast Louisiana’s Black and Hispanic children — 66% and 56% respectively — lived in households that couldn’t afford the basics in 2019, compared to 36% of white children, according to a new report from United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) and its research partner United For ALICE.
ALICE in Focus: Children reveals the disproportionate impact of financial hardship on the region’s Black and Hispanic children, while also challenging the reliance on federal poverty guidelines for eligibility for assistance programs. The report finds traditional measures of poverty have severely undercounted the number of children of all races ages 18 and younger in Louisiana who are growing up in financially insecure households.
While 24% of all children in Southeast Louisiana – including Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes – were deemed in poverty in 2019, the report shows that 32% lived in families defined as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). ALICE households earn more than the Federal Poverty Level, but less than what it costs to live and work in the modern economy. Combined, 55% of Southeast Louisiana children lived in households below the ALICE Threshold, with income that doesn’t meet the basic costs of housing, child care, health care, transportation and a smartphone plan.
“Undercounting the number of children who are at risk can have lifelong consequences,” said Michael Williamson, UWSELA president and CEO. “Thousands of children are locked out of receiving critical supports for stable housing, food, and quality education, all of which can inhibit healthy child development.”
Because ALICE households often earn too much to qualify for public assistance, the report finds that more than 95,000 at-risk children didn’t access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.
Other Southeast Louisiana findings from ALICE in Focus: Children include:
- Having two working parents didn’t guarantee financial stability: Among households with two working adults, 26% of children were living in families whose income didn’t meet the cost of basic needs in 2019.
- At a staggering 75%, the Jefferson Parish West Bank represents the highest share of children living under the ALICE threshold in the region.
- Over 56,000 children in households earning below the ALICE Threshold had no high-speed internet access at home.
“Having accurate, complete data is the foundation for designing equitable solutions,” said United For ALICE National Director Stephanie Hoopes, Ph.D. “COVID-19 hit ALICE families so much harder than others because they struggle to build savings yet often don’t qualify for financial assistance.”
According to the new research, 42% of all Louisiana families below the ALICE Threshold reported in the fall of 2021 that their children “sometimes or often” didn’t have enough to eat. While this was less common in higher-income households, a substantial 31% of respondents above the Threshold also struggled to afford food for their children.
More data is available through the ALICE in Focus: Children interactive data dashboard – which provides filters for regional and local geographies, age, race, disability status, living arrangements and household work status. Visit UnitedForALICE.org/Focus-Children.
ALICE in Focus: Children is the first installment in the ALICE in Focus Research Series, which draws from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS). Each installment in the series will highlight a specific segment within the ALICE demographic. Upcoming topics include people with disabilities and veterans.
About United Way of Southeast Louisiana
For more than 95 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.
About United For ALICE
United For ALICE is a driver of innovation, research and action to improve life across the country for ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) and for all. Through the development of the ALICE measurements, a comprehensive, unbiased picture of financial hardship has emerged. Harnessing this data and research on the mismatch between low-paying jobs and the cost of survival, ALICE partners convene, advocate and collaborate on solutions that promote financial stability at local, state and national levels. This grassroots ALICE movement, led by United Way of Northern New Jersey, has spread to 24 states and includes United Ways, corporations, nonprofits and foundations in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., West Virginia and Wisconsin; we are United For ALICE. For more information, visit: UnitedForALICE.org.