BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — A new report shows how many households in Louisiana have financially struggled since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
Residents who are living in ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households earn above the Federal Poverty Level yet cannot afford the basic cost of living, according to the Louisiana Association of United Ways. The report titled ALICE in the Crosscurrents: COVID and Financial Hardship in Louisiana outlines the number of households impacted in 2021.
The report states that Louisiana households experiencing financial difficulty are still officially undercounted. The FPL reports 19%, or 339,916, of households in the state were in poverty in 2021, however, data shows that another 32%, or 562,552, fell into the ALICE category. According to the report, Louisiana has the second-highest rate of families with income below the amount needed to survive with 51% of 1,776,260 households.
Louisiana, comparing 2021 income status to other U.S. states, ranked 50th.
The highest rates of those living below the threshold were Black households, young households and single-parent households. Research also found that households in rural parishes had a higher rate than urban parishes, 59% vs. 49%. The parish with the largest increase in the number of households below the ALICE Threshold was East Baton Rouge Parish, which was up 18%, the report said.
Baton Rouge teacher Aneecha Bradley said there’s not much room for error or emergencies with her income despite the hard work she puts in. As a mom, she wants to make sure her two kids are smart with their money. Bradley said she uses real-world examples to teach her son and daughter about finances and savings.
“I’m practical. One paycheck each month mostly goes to my mortgage, the other paycheck is for the light bill, car insurance, life insurance, food and to pay off I needed to improve in the house after I bought it,” said Bradley.
How much are ALICE households bringing home?
“The crux of the problem is a mismatch between earnings and the cost of basics,” the report stated.
Out of the most common jobs in Louisiana, the report said 75% paid less than $20 an hour in 2021 while the wage needed to live as outlined in the ALICE Household Survival Budget was $13.38 an hour for one full-time worker or $33.14 an hour for a family of four.
Recent surveys showed that households living below the ALICE Threshold continue to face food insufficiency, difficulty paying bills, medical debt, reduced savings and feelings of anxiety and depression, the report said.
Louisiana families who reported struggling to pay for food, rent/mortgage, car payments and medical expenses increased from 55% in August 2020 to 64% in November of 2022, according to the report.
The United Way notes that learning how households struggle is important to determine how to allocate money for programs. People in Louisiana can help by learning more or contacting their local United Way.