United Way report shows more residents financially on the edge

By Kristina Tedeschi Wayne September 1, 2018

The ALICE acronym stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained yet Employed, and the growing numbers are largely due to a climbing cost of living here in Connecticut, said Richard J. Porth, president and CEO of United Way Connecticut.

While Connecticut workers earn the highest median income when compared to the 17 other states that participate in the ALICE Project, he said, the cost of living here is also the highest.

“The real story in Connecticut is our cost of living,” Porth said. “That’s the biggest part of it.”

The report found the cost of a budget for a family of four increased by 23 percent in just six years, from 2010 to 2016. It also found the annual “household survival budget” stands at $23,976 for a single adult – which breaks down to earning an hourly wage of $11.99 – and $75,192 for two adults, one infant and one preschooler, or a wage of $37.60 per hour.

However, only 55 percent of jobs in Connecticut pay more than $20 per hour, according to Norwich Director of Human Services Lee-Ann Gomes.

And despite what many may believe, she said, people in ALICE households are hard workers who are employed at one or even two jobs.

“It’s the lady making my coffee every morning at Dunkin’ Donuts,” she said. “I think there’s this big myth that people are poor because of public assistance. That’s not true. Every family I see who can work right now is working.”

More than 10,000 households in the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut service area live in poverty, while more than 32,300 are considered ALICE households, according to the report.

Continue reading: Norwich Bulletin