To read a copy of the United Way ALICE Report and find county-by-county and town-level data on the demographics of ALICE as well as the community conditions and costs faced by ALICE households, visit www.UnitedForALICE.org/Florida
When COVID-19 hit, over 31,000 Monroe County households were one emergency away from financial ruin, setting the stage for the unprecedented economic impact of the crisis. Florida's latest ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) Report, released by United Ways in Florida, in partnership with United For ALICE, highlights hardworking yet struggling residents who have little or no savings and are especially vulnerable to the ramifications of COVID-19. The Florida ALICE Report and the Monroe County ALICE breakdown can be viewed at UnitedForALICE.org.
ALICE workers play essential roles in our local economy, building and repairing our infrastructure and educating and caring for our past, current, and future workforce. Some are on the front lines caring for COVID-19 patients. These are the very people that United Way works to serve.
Yet many ALICE workers do not have basic employee protections — such as annual salary, adequate health care coverage, and access to other benefits — that would help them withstand the COVID-19 crisis. Most ALICE workers don’t get paid if a conference is postponed, a bar or restaurant is closed, or an event is cancelled. Even before the pandemic, a breakdown of the labor force in Monroe County shows that of the 53% of residents who are employed full-time, half of them are hourly workers. These workers are more likely to have fluctuations in income and are less likely to receive benefits.
Over the last decade, Monroe County's ALICE families systematically lost buying power and financial stability as the high cost of essentials outpaced wages. Certain areas of Monroe County are especially vulnerable, with the highest ALICE percentages found in Stock Island (52%), Marathon (47%), and Tavernier (49%).
The Monroe County Household Survival Budget, now drills down into detailed local-level estimates on costs such as food and transportation, where only broader data was previously available. The latest findings also factor in geographic differences in the cost of living and includes housing, food, transportation, child care, health care and other basic necessities. The budget does not include savings for emergencies or future goals like college or retirement.
In 2018, the Federal Poverty Level was $12,140 for a single adult and $25,100 for a family of four. To put that into perspective, the Monroe County Household Survival Budget for a single adult is currently $30,216 and $84,432 for a family of four. This means the family survival budget is 236% higher than the Federal Poverty Limit and is 149% higher for individuals.
Families with children have been hit the hardest. With the new, more county specific figures reflected in this Household Survival Budget, the minimum needed to survive has increased by roughly 22.5% over the budget from just two years ago. A Monroe County minimum-wage worker — even a single adult without children — does not earn enough to meet the requirements of the Monroe survival budget. In fact, a household with two minimum wage workers in our county earns around half, or even less, of the family survival budget.
While wages for ALICE workers have remained largely stagnant, the cost of seven of the eight essential monthly budget items increased significantly over the past decade. The report shows ALICE households were locked out of the boom economy and unable to establish savings due to meager pay raises; inconsistent job hours, schedules, and benefits; and these rising essential costs.
“No matter how hard ALICE families work, the gap between their wages and the cost of basics just keeps widening,” said Leah Stockton, Keys Area President of United Way of Collier and the Keys. “These already fragile ALICE households are now facing an even deeper financial hole due to the state of emergency created by COVID-19.” “We’ve known that our economy was increasingly reliant on these families we call ALICE, who are financially vulnerable to any emergency,” said Stockton. “For thousands of families in our community, COVID-19 became that one universal emergency. ALICE families are facing the greatest health and financial risks today, as they are largely the workers who don’t have health insurance, have no paid sick days, and whose children receive daily meals at school. As our country is suffering, ALICE families are facing their greatest health and financial risk today.”
United Way of Collier and the Keys established a Coronavirus Fund to support those ALICE families who have been impacted by the pandemic. To help Monroe County residents struggling during this pandemic, UWCK is accepting donations at https://KeysUnitedWay.org/Donate.
Who is ALICE?
Bahama Village Music Program, one of UWCK's nonprofit partner agencies, shared the following story about an ALICE family they serve.
“One of Bahama Village Music Program’s star students is from one of our most economically strained families. ‘Jade’ is one of two children being raised by a hardworking, single mother who is employed as a home health aide. Every day after school, ‘Jade’ attends BVMP programs. She is a multi-instrumentalist, playing the piano and saxophone, and is always the first to help others with their instruments,” says Katchen Duncan, BVMP Executive Director.
“‘Jade’ and her family are very dedicated to her future, but just need a little extra to get by and that is where United Way of Collier and the Keys comes in. Thanks to UWCK funding, BVMP is able to offer a safe, clean after school environment for students like ‘Jade’ to flourish and realize her full potential.”
Florida is one of 18 states that have ALICE reports published. For the FULL REPORT, state or county-level ALICE data or to find county-by-county survival and stability budgets for six family sizes, visit UnitedWayALICE.org/Florida
2017 ALICE Monroe County Pages
2014 Complete ALICE Report
2014 ALICE Monroe County Page