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ALICE households depend on reliable transportation in order to reach jobs, schools and child care, health care, stores, and social services, and to connect with friends, family, and faith communities. Yet access to transportation is a significant barrier for many ALICE families.

Transportation — especially vehicle ownership or leasing — consumes a substantial portion of an ALICE household budget. The figure below compares the average monthly salary of a full-time security guard with three different monthly transportation budgets for a family of four. Just over one million ALICE workers are security guards, earning an average hourly wage of $12.93, or $25,860 annually (if full time, year-round). This job usually requires a vehicle due to work locations and hours.1

Public transportation, when available, is the least expensive way for workers to commute. As shown in the figure below, the average cost of public transportation is $154 per month, or 7 percent of a security guard’s income, compared to the basic running cost of owning a vehicle, which is $439 per month or 20 percent of that income. (The latter assumes that the family already owns a car and one person drives less than 10 miles each way to work every day.) The cost of purchasing a used vehicle adds $307 per month, which, combined with the running cost, takes up 35 percent of the income. If workers in the family have to commute farther than 10 miles each way, the costs increase significantly. For example, a worker driving 50 miles each way to work every day could add more than $640 per month in costs.2

Monthly Transportation Costs (Family of Four) and ALICE Worker Wage, 2017

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2017). Occupational employment statistics. U.S. Department of Labor.; Internal Revenue Service. (2016, December 13). 2017 standard mileage rates for business, medical and moving announced


Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). (2017). Occupational employment and wage estimates. Retrieved from

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). (2017). Consumer expenditures survey. Retrieved from

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). (2017). Occupational employment and wage estimates. Retrieved from