Updated United Way ALICE Report for Iowa reveals 40 percent of Mahaska County households struggle to afford basics

United Way ALICE Report details size and scope of financial hardship in Iowa

Oskaloosa, Iowa – In Iowa, 457,044 households – 37 percent of the state’s total – are unable to afford the state’s cost of living, according to the updated United Way ALICE Report for Iowa. In Mahaska County, 40 percent of households live below the ALICE Threshold. This is an increase from the 2016 report that put that number at 34 percent.

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 away from falling into poverty. ALICE is a look at those who are working and earning, but are not able to afford a basic needs budget in the county in which they live. These workers are in “maintainer” jobs that fill needs in our communities including child and senior caregiving, service sector positions, clerical and custodial positions, along with a host of others that we rely on every day. These members of our communities are typically missed in traditional measures of poverty.

The United Way ALICE Report is the most comprehensive depiction of financial needs in the state to date, using data from a variety of sources, including the US Census. The report unveils new measures, based on present-day income levels and expenses that show how many Iowa workers are struggling financially, and why.

“We often talk about the poverty level as if once you’re above it, all your problems are gone,” said Amy Meyer, Executive Director of United Way of Mahaska County. “But there are so many in our community who are above the poverty line, working hard, but are just a step or two away from financial emergency.”

In Mahaska County, 14% of the population live below the Federal Poverty Level. The United Way ALICE Report for Iowa shows that an additional 26% of Mahaska County residents are unable to afford life’s basic necessities of housing, transportation, food, health care and child care despite having income above the Federal Poverty Level designation. These are households earning more than the official U.S. poverty level, but less that the very basic cost of living in our community.

“The ALICE data allows us to have a better understanding of people who are struggling, so we can have more informed conversations about what we can do to make lives better in Mahaska County,” said Meyer.

The United Way ALICE Report for Iowa provides high-quality, research-based information to foster a better understanding of our communities. The research was led by Stephanie Hoopes Halpin, Ph.D., United Way ALICE Project National Director. Her staff collaborated with a ten person Iowa Research Advisory Committee which represented a number of Iowa’s colleges, universities, state departments and nonprofits, who advised and contributed to this report.

The presenting sponsor of the 2018 United Way ALICE Report for Iowa is Alliant Energy. “Alliant Energy is proud to partner with United Way on the ALICE Report to identify additional ways to support Iowa families,” said Doug Kopp, President – Alliant Energy’s Iowa energy utility. “We hope this report inspires other businesses in our state to make a difference as well.”
Additional funding for the report was provided by the Iowa Credit Union Foundation.

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Posted by on Jul 5 2018. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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