Research Center • National Overview

Over the last decade, behind the veneer of a strong economy, conditions have actually gotten worse for millions of families across the U.S. — and that decline set the stage for the dual health and economic crises of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the center of these crises is ALICE: households that are ALICEAsset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.

ALICE workers educate our children, keep us healthy, and make our quality of life possible, yet do not earn enough to support their own families. ALICE households have income above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) but not high enough to afford essentials in the communities where they live. As a result, they are forced to make tough choices, such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent, which have long-term consequences not only for ALICE but for all.

In order to better understand this growing population, United For ALICE provides a framework, language, statistics, and tools that community stakeholders can use to inform policy and drive innovation. The Research Center is the hub of — a one-stop source for exploring the latest ALICE data, on a national scale down to the local level in our partner states. Use the tabs below to navigate the Research Center.

National Overview – 2018

Every two years, United For ALICE conducts a study of financial hardship at the national level in order to better understand economic disparity within and across states, to track changes over time, and to inform action that improves conditions for ALICE households nationwide. The most recent national analysis was conducted in 2020 (with 2018 data); the next analysis will be conducted in 2022 (with 2020 data).

In 2018, of the 121 million households in the U.S., 42% (51 million) could not afford basic necessities of housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, a smartphone plan, and taxes:

  • 16 million households (13%) were in poverty, meaning they earned below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)
  • 35 million households (29%) – more than double the number in poverty – were ALICE, meaning they earned above the FPL but less than the cost of living in their county

State-Level Details, 2018

This interactive map provides four data points for each state and county:

  • Total number of households
  • Percentage of households in poverty
  • Percentage of ALICE households
  • Percentage of households above the ALICE Threshold
Below ALICE Threshold
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County-Level Details, 2018

Below ALICE Threshold
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National Comparison, 2018

This interactive figure compares the percentage of households who live below the ALICE Threshold in each state in 2018. State averages are shown in gold. The percentage of the population that is below the ALICE Threshold within each county is represented by the blue boxes. This visual shows the variation in financial hardship that exists across and within states.

National Demographics, 2018

This interactive figure shows the demographic breakdown of poverty-level, ALICE, and above ALICE Threshold households in 2018 at the national level. Data shown below include households by age, race/ethnicity, and family type.