ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed – households that earn more than the Federal Poverty Level, but less than the basic costs of living for the county (the ALICE Threshold). Households below the ALICE Threshold cannot afford the basics in the communities where they live.

ALICE is us, our friends, neighbors, coworkers and family members. We lean on ALICE for support, yet many ALICE households are one emergency away from a financial crisis impacting their ability to feed their families, heat their homes, maintain their houses and ensure their medical care. For a growing number of U.S. households, financial stability is nothing more than a pipe dream, no matter how hard their members work.


The crux of the problem for ALICE is a mismatch between earnings and the cost of basics. For example, 43% of cashiers (one of the most common occupations in Connecticut) were below the ALICE Threshold in 2021. These workers earned a median hourly wage of $13.80, not even enough to cover the ALICE Household Survival Budget for one worker employed full time ($16.56 per hour).

The economic disruption of the pandemic made it more difficult for households to move beyond the ALICE Threshold. The cost of basics increased in Connecticut and remained well above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). For a family of four in 2021, the FPL was $26,500 while the ALICE Household Survival Budget was $106,632 in Connecticut.

ALICE lives in our rural, suburban and urban communities. 80% of Connecticut towns have at least 1 in 5 households that are ALICE.

ALICE households:

  • Span all races, ages, ethnicities and abilities, though households of color are disproportionately ALICE
  • Include workers whose wages cannot keep up with the rising cost of goods and services
  • Often include those who are working two or more jobs and still cannot pay their bills
  • Include family members who need care and assistance, which makes it harder for their caregivers to find adequate work
  • Live paycheck to paycheck and are forced to make impossible choices: pay the rent or buy food, receive medical care or pay for child care, pay utility bills or put gas in the car
  • Are part of every community nationwide, and are part of our Connecticut community

The number of households in financial hardship in Connecticut continues to be undercounted in official measures. According to the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), 10% of households in Connecticut (149,960) were in poverty in 2021. Yet United For ALICE data shows that another 28% (402,750 households) — more than twice as many — were living above the Federal Poverty Level but below the ALICE Threshold.

The reality is that 552,710 households in Connecticut — 39% — had income below the ALICE Threshold of Financial Survival in 2021.

Explore what it’s like to walk in ALICE’s shoes:

Making tough choices