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2020 ALICE Report Shows Widespread Economic Suffering in CT

Food pantries, rental assistance and other social supports are crucial to keep ALICE families from financial ruin during the pandemic. (Share Our Selves)
Food pantries, rental assistance and other social supports are crucial to keep ALICE families from financial ruin during the pandemic. (Share Our Selves)
September 8, 2020

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Low-wage workers in Connecticut face enormous financial stress; suffering that has only been exacerbated by the pandemic, according to the just-released 2020 United Way ALICE report.

ALICE stands for Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed, a measure designed to count families that make more than the federal poverty limit but not enough to make ends meet.

Paula Gilberto, CEO of the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, said in 2018, two years before the pandemic, more than a half-million people in Connecticut made less than the ALICE threshold.

"Thirty-eight percent of Connecticut households cannot afford the basics," Gilberto said. "And that includes housing, food, health care, child care, technology and transportation."

The problem is widespread across the state. In 148 out of Connecticut's 169 cities and towns, 20% of families live below the ALICE threshold.

Richard Porth, CEO of the United Way of Connecticut, said much of the problem stems from the fact so many jobs are hourly, with inconsistent schedules, low wages and few benefits.

"ALICE workers are essential workers," Porth said. "They're nursing assistants, they work in grocery stores. They're retail workers, child-care providers, home health aides, maintenance workers, teacher assistants, mechanics and much, much more."

Porth said a disproportionate number of families of color in Connecticut live below the ALICE threshold: 57% of Black households and 63% of Hispanic households.

"Something's wrong there," Porth added. "And we want to call that out and ask for help across the whole government, business, community leaders and others to figure out how we can do better."

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CT