New Report Demonstrates the Financial Hardship Faced by 51 Percent of Louisiana Households Who Struggle to Afford the Basics

Louisiana Second Only to Mississippi in the percentage of families living below the ALICE threshold

BATON ROUGE, La., May 25, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Louisiana Association of United Ways (LAUW) in partnership with United Ways throughout the state, today released a new report revealing that 51% of households in Louisiana, totaling over 900,000 families, can't afford basic necessities, an increase of 22,980 families.

ALICE in the Crosscurrents COVID and Financial Hardship – the first detailed report since the COVID pandemic – details how families both above and below the poverty level made difficult choices due to financial headwinds, despite pandemic and disaster benefits.

The report also shows that one-third (32%) of Louisiana households are ALICE, or Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, a term that describes households earning more than the federally designated poverty level (FPL) but less than the cost of living in their area.

"The economic scars of recent years are evident in the increase of Louisiana working families who are unable to make basic ends meet," stated Sarah Berthelot, President/CEO of LAUW. "Many also have reduced emergency savings or retirement assets, and inflation persists. Understanding these persistent challenges is a crucial component of our process toward recovery."

The updated ALICE Household Survival Budget for a working family of four in 2021 was $66,288, well above the FPL of $26,500. Even with tax credits, ALICE would need to earn about $33/hour to keep up with expenses, yet 75% of the state's most common jobs earn less than $20/hour.

"The cost of living is changing and unfortunately the pay is not. Even though I have improved in my career goals and have the ability to make a better living for myself, it still presents a challenge in today's economy," explained Aneecha Bradley, a public school teacher and mother from Baton Rouge who qualifies as ALICE based on income.

Every parish was affected by the pandemic and the six federally declared natural disasters since 2020, but competing economic forces played out differently across demographic groups: Black, young, and single–parent households were more likely to be ALICE or in poverty, while white, working–age and married–parent households were more likely to be financially stable.

Findings from the new report show:

  • Food Insufficiency: Even with emergency food measures in place, 26% of households below the ALICE threshold reported that their household "sometimes or often did not have enough to eat" in November 2022, an increase of 8% over two years and well above the state average (15%). At that same time, 30% of households with children below the threshold reported not having enough food, an increase of 13% since prior reporting in August of 2020.

  • Struggles with Paying Bills: The rate of families that reported difficulty paying for usual items such as food, rent/mortgage, car payments and medical expenses increased from 55% of households in August 2020 to 64% in November of 2022.

  • Urban Vs Rural: Fifty-nine percent of rural households and 49% of urban households, live below the ALICE threshold. In Claiborne and East Caroll parishes, 69% of families qualify as ALICE, the highest levels in the state.

  • Families with Children: The typical family of four brought in $17,000 less than the costs of basic expenses, which increased by 11%. Childcare costs for two children rose to $1,421 monthly and are typically the largest expense in a family's budget.

  • Lack of Emergency Savings: Even with pandemic and disaster benefits, only 29% of households below the ALICE threshold had emergency savings equal to three months of expenses, a reduction from the pre-pandemic levels of 37%.

  • Healthcare disparities: Families below the ALICE threshold were more likely to report that they missed, delayed or skipped a child's preventative check-up (45% vs. 36%).  Households below the threshold were also twice as likely to report feeling down, depressed or hopeless (18% vs. 9% in 2022). ALICE Households that included a family member with a disability (38%)  or who identify as LGBT (47%) were much more likely to report feeling nervous, anxious or on edge.

ALICE in the Crosscurrents: COVID and Financial Hardship in Louisiana is the fifth of a series of Louisiana-specific research-based reports released by United Ways across Louisiana since 2016, thanks to the generous support of the Entergy Corporation. The project is a collaboration with the United For ALICE, a grassroots movement in 27 states that provides corporations and foundations with consistent methodology and reporting to document financial need. ALICE Reports provide parish-by-parish and town-level data, and analysis of how many households are struggling, including the obstacles ALICE households face on the road to financial independence.

"Entergy has been proud to partner on the ALICE Report with the Louisiana Association of United Ways since the report's inception in 2016," said Patty Riddlebarger, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility, Entergy Corporation. "The report has provided a voice for thousands of struggling households while also serving as an invaluable tool for policymakers and community leaders who are shaping the programs and initiatives that are making a real difference in the lives of ALICE families in our communities. In 2022, the Louisiana Association of United Ways and United Way partners across our state were instrumental in helping Entergy provide more than $4.4 million in utility assistance and VITA support for working families in Louisiana. Entergy is committed to helping ALICE families achieve economic stability. Our support for the ALICE report is an invaluable resource in this work."

For more information or to find data about ALICE in local communities, visit www.UnitedForALICE.org/Louisiana. View or download a full copy of ALICE in the Crosscurrents: COVID and Financial Hardship at  https://www.launitedway.org/alice-reports-louisiana.

Access statements from the Research Advisory Council at this link
Access statements from regional LAUW leaders at this link.
View full press drive including media at this link.

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SOURCE Louisiana Association of United Ways