Louisiana in the Age of COVID-19:Through the Lens of ALICE Results from the Louisiana United Way COVID-19 Survey coordinated by the Louisiana Association of United Ways
Survey conducted in May, 2020
Louisiana Association of United Ways
Louisiana in the Age of COVID-19: Through the Lens of ALICE Results from the Louisiana United Way COVID-19 Survey coordinated by the Louisiana Association of United Ways
When COVID-19 hit, just over 576,000 Louisiana households were already one emergency away from a financial crisis — a 10-year record high — setting the stage for the unprecedented economic impact of COVID-19. These households are ALICE: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. With income above the Federal Poverty Level, ALICE households earn too much to qualify as “poor” but are still unable to cover the basics of housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and technology in the parishes where they live. When including households in poverty, there were just over 891,000 households below the ALICE Threshold (ALICE and Poverty combined) in Louisiana before the pandemic…over half of the state’s total population. Between May 11 and May 21, 2020, over 2,000 people living in Louisiana responded to a survey about how their households have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some highlights focused on ALICE in Louisiana: 17% of respondents living below the ALICE Threshold called 211 to locate help to meet basic needs and ask questions about COVID-19 within the first 70 days of the outbreak.
1. Households below the ALICE Threshold were more vulnerable before the pandemic, and they were hit harder financially with the economic slowdown. • Most respondents with household income below the ALICE Threshold had one month or less of savings (77%), while most respondents above the ALICE Threshold had two months or more (65%). • More than half (57%) of respondents below the ALICE Threshold had someone in their household become unemployed or had their hours reduced, compared to less than one-third (29%) of respondents above the ALICE Threshold (Figure 1). • For ALICE respondents, child care was necessary for nearly one in three households to maintain jobs. Changes in childcare access led to the loss of jobs for 28% of ALICE caregivers and 15% were forced to reduce work hours. 2. Across both income groups, getting COVID-19 was the biggest concern. • A significantly higher percentage of respondents with household income below the ALICE households were concerned about paying their rent or mortgage and other bills (Figure 2). 3. ALICE household needs help to navigate the income interruptions. • 40% of respondents with household income below the ALICE Threshold applied for unemployment, 30% applied for SNAP/food stamps, 26% used a food pantry/ food bank, 24% borrowed from family or friends, and 16% increased balance on a credit card to make ends meet. • Compared to households above the ALICE Threshold, a significantly higher percentage said that assistance paying their rent or mortgage and other bills would make a big difference, while 39% of households above the ALICE Threshold reported they didn’t need any assistance (Figure 3).
How Have Your Working Arrangements Changed? 100%
15% Work Increased
60% 50% 40%
30% 20% 10% 0%
Reduced Work Unemployed
Below ALICE Threshold
Percentages are rounded to whole numbers, resulting in percentages totaling 99% or 101% for this graph.
What is Your BIGGEST Concern? 90% 80% 70% 60%
3% 7% 23%
50% 40% 30% 20% 10%
Economic Health of My Community
Paying Other Bills Paying Rent/Mortgage
0% Above ALICE
Below ALICE Threshold
What Would Make the MOST Difference to You? 90% 80% 70% 60%
New Job Nothing Paying Bills
Reinstatement of Job
Below ALICE Threshold
Survey Analysis from United For ALICE Of the people who responded to the survey, those who were below the ALICE Threshold… • Were most concerned about themselves or a loved one getting COVID-19 (25%), paying rent/mortgage (20%), paying other bills (14%). • Said that having assistance paying rent/mortgage and other bills would make the most difference in helping households get through the pandemic (30% and 24%, respectively). Technical Notes: To determine whether households were above or below the ALICE Threshold, household composition was matched to the parish Household Survival Budget and then compared to the household income level. The survey is a voluntary response sample conducted between May 11 and May 21, 2020. Over 2,000 people living in Louisiana responded providing over 800 responses for each income category, above and below the ALICE Threshold. Since it is not a random sample, it is not possible to make statements on the overall population.
• 40% applied for unemployment, 30% applied for SNAP/food stamps, 26% used a food pantry/food bank, 24% borrowed from family or friends, and 16% increased balance on a credit card to make ends meet. • Have had to adapt to new technology needs: Since the pandemic hit, 22% have purchased/upgraded an internet subscription, 11% have purchased a computer, and 10% have purchased a tablet. • Did not have savings to fall back on. Before the pandemic, 33% of respondents below the ALICE Threshold had savings that could cover basic expenses for one week or less. Only 23% had enough savings to cover the basics for more than one month. Compared to survey respondents above the ALICE Threshold, survey respondents below the ALICE Threshold are… • Significantly more likely to be concerned about paying rent/mortgage and other bills, getting food and needed supplies, mental health issues, and significantly less likely to be concerned about the overall economy and attending church or other social gatherings. • Just as likely to be concerned about themselves or a loved one getting COVID-19 and having adequate child care. • Significantly more likely to say that having help paying rent/mortgage and other bills, and having their job reinstated or getting a new job would help their household at this time, and significantly less likely to say that they don’t have any current financial needs. • Significantly more likely to have had a household member become unemployed or be working reduced hours since the pandemic hit. • Significantly more likely to have applied for SNAP/food stamps, used a food bank, borrowed from family or friends, or applied for unemployment to make ends meet. • Significantly more likely to have used the CARES Act stimulus money (for those who received it) to pay for utilities, rent, or food, and were significantly less likely to put it into savings. • Significantly more likely to say that they are no longer able to work due to child care issues (like access or affordability).
Who is ALICE in Louisiana? ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE earns more than the Federal Poverty Level but is unable to earn enough to meet the basics of the Louisiana average ALICE Household Survival Budget as depicted in Figure 4. Of Louisiana’s 1,735,620 households, 314,968 earned below the Federal Poverty Level (18%) in 2018, and another 576,381 (33%) were ALICE. Figure 4
Household Survival Budget, Louisiana, Average, 2018 SINGLE (ADULT)
2 ADULTS, 1 INFANT, 1 PRESCHOOLER
Monthly Costs Housing
Monthly Total ANNUAL TOTAL (ALICE Threshold) Hourly Wage*
KEY TERMS Household Survival Budget The bare-minimum costs of basic necessities (see Figure 4). ALICE Threshold The average income needed to afford the Household Suvival Budget. Households below the ALICE Threshold include both ALICE and povertylevel households. ALICE Households with income above the Federal Poverty Level but below the basic cost of living. Poverty Households earning below the Federal Poverty Level**.
*Full-time wage required to support this budget **Federal Poverty Level for the family types listed above: Single Adult Household = $12,140 and Family of Four = $25,100. For more family types, visit UnitedforALICE.org
To learn more about ALICE In Louisiana, please review ALICE in Louisiana: A Financial Hardship Study, released on August 6, 2020. This comprehensive report provides statewide and parish specific, researchbased information on pre-pandemic conditions for ALICE. You can download the 180-page report at Launitedway.org or visit the website of your local United Way. More information about ALICE and our research partnership, visit UnitedforALICE.org. This report is made possible through sponsorship support from the Entergy Corporation and United Ways throughout Louisiana.
This statewide survey project was a partnership between the following United Ways:
Capital Area United Way www.cauw.org
United Way of Northeast Louisiana www.unitedwaynela.org
St. John United Way www.stjohnunitedway.org
United Way of Northwest Louisiana www.unitedwaynwla.org
St. Landry-Evangeline United Way www.uwsle.org
United Way of Southeast Louisiana www.unitedwaysela.org
United Way of Acadiana www.unitedwayofacadiana.org
United Way of Southwest Louisiana www.unitedwayswla.org
United Way of Central Louisiana www.uwcl.org
Louisiana Association of United Ways www.launitedway.org
United Way of Iberia www.unitedwayofiberia.org
Special Thanks United Ways are grateful for United for ALICE Research Team and Steven J. Dick, Ph.D., of Modern Metrics Barn, for generously providing expert support and capacity building assistance for this statewide survey project. About United For ALICE United For ALICE is a driver of innovation, shining a light on the challenges ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households face and finding collaborative solutions. Through a standardized methodology that assesses the cost of living in every county, this project provides a comprehensive measure of financial hardship across the U.S. Equipped with this data, ALICE partners convene, advocate, and innovate in their local communities to highlight the issues faced by ALICE households and to generate solutions that promote financial stability. About Steven J. Dick, Ph.D, Modern Metrics Barn Steven Dick, Ph.D. is a research manager, data scientist, and surveyor in media, social services, and education initiatives. The Modern Metrics Barn provides customized research for commercial and community clientele using public/private data, survey research, demography, external evaluation, and media metrics. Over the last 27 years, Dick published more than 75 journal articles, book chapters, and research reports.
For more information about these survey results, please reach out to your local United Way or contact Sarah Berthelot, President and CEO of Louisiana Association of United Ways at firstname.lastname@example.org or 225-341-2928. Louisiana Association of United Ways