Meet ALICE in the EMCOG Region

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A Summary Report Prepared by the East Michigan Council of Governments

ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained Employed) lives in every community.  In the East Michigan Council of Governments (EMCOG)[1] 1 out of every 2.2 households (45%) are earning less than what is needed (the ALICE Threshold) to afford the basics, such as housing, child care, food, transportation, health care and technology.  The numbers vary by county from a low in Midland County of 34% to a high in Clare County of 55%. The number of households within the EMCOG Region not earning enough to afford the basics has increased since the 2017 report (1 out of every 2.4 households or 42% as reported in 2017).  Statewide the number of households as reported in the 2019 report, amounts to 43% with income below the ALICE Threshold.

The 2019 Michigan Report “ALICE In Michigan: A Financial Hardship Study” was released in March of 2019.  It is the third report produced by the Michigan Association of United Ways.  The first report was released in 2015, and an update was released in 2017.  The following are quotes from the executive summaries of each of the three reports which briefly summarize the findings and trends in quantifying how Michigan households are doing.

2015 Report: “ALICE households are working households; they hold jobs and provide services that are vital to the Michigan economy in positions like retail salespeople, team assemblers, truck drivers, nursing assistants and paramedics.  The core of the problem is that these jobs do not pay enough to afford the basics of housing, child care, food, health care and transportation.  The growth of low-skilled jobs is projected to outpace that of medium and high skilled jobs into the next decade.  At the same time, the cost of basic household necessities continues to rise. (Source: ALICE Michigan, Executive Summary, September, 2014)

2017 Report:ALICE households have incomes above the Federal Poverty Level, but still struggle to afford basic household necessities.  Although evidence is emerging that jobs and wages are improving, the percent of households struggling has only improved (statewide) from 41% in 2010 to 40% in 2012 and has remained flat since.” (Source: ALICE Michigan, Executive Summary, Winter, 2017)

2019 Report:Despite overall improvement in employment and gains in median income, the economic recovery in Michigan has been uneven.  Many ALICE households continue to face challenges from low wages, reduced work hours, depleted savings, and increasing costs.  For many households that earned slightly above the ALICE Threshold in the past, increases in the cost of living and flat wages have pushed them below the Threshold and into financial hardship.  The total number of Michigan households that cannot afford basic needs increased 6 percent from 2010 to 2017”.  (ALICE In Michigan, Executive Summary, March, 2019)

View a summary analysis of ALICE in EMCOG

The report includes analyses from each of the 3 reports (2015, 2017 and 2019).  The summary includes links to the Michigan Report.  Please Contact Jane Fitzpatrick at for further information on the EMCOG prepared regional reports.

[1] EMCOG consists of Arenac, Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Huron, Iosco, Isabella, Midland, Ogemaw, Roscommon, Saginaw, Sanilac and Tuscola counties.