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United Way report says 44% of Michigan kids live in financially vulnerable households

According to a new report from the United Way, nearly half of Michigan children live in households considered financially vulnerable,

The Michigan Association of United Ways (MAUW) released on Monday its first report of the new 2022 ALICE in Focus Series. The series, which was supported by the Consumers Energy Foundation, features three reports, each highlighting a different demographic group within Michigan’s ALICE population; Children, those with Disabilities, and Veterans. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.

The first report spotlights children growing up in financial hardship, in households that have an income, but still struggle to afford essentials such as housing, childcare, food, transportation, and healthcare, among other needs.

According to the 2022 ALICE In Focus: Children Report, nearly one million (44%) of Michigan children in 2019 lived in a household with an income below the ALICE Threshold. Of that 44%, 17% lived under the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and 27% earned above the FPL but did not earn enough to afford the basics in the communities where they lived.

While there are children below the ALICE Threshold across all demographic groups, the report highlights a clear divide based on race and ethnicity – 71% of Black children and 58% of Hispanic children lived in households below the Threshold, compared to 36% of White children

Mike Larson, President and CEO of Michigan Association of United Ways, said the 2021 release of their fourth ALICE Report continues to inform the conversation about the real and present needs across Michigan.

“Although there is much work to do, we remain resilient and committed to serving ALICE families through supporting programs and advocating for public policies that strive to improve the health, education, and financial stability of all Michigan households and communities,” said Larson.

The Report reveals that children below the ALICE Threshold are concentrated in families where adults work in occupations with low median hourly wages. The 2021 ALICE Report found that 58% of jobs in Michigan paid less than $20 an hour, while a family of four needs to earn $32.06 an hour in order to make ends meet.

According to a press release, ALICE in Focus “confirms that the largest driver of a child’s financial stability is the employment status of household members, but underscores that two working parents or guardians does not guarantee financial stability,” noting that 23% of Michigan children live in households with two adults in the labor force yet are still below the ALICE Threshold.

The ALICE in Focus Report once again notes that many ALICE families earn too much to be eligible for public assistance, but still struggle to meet basic needs for their children.

The Report finds the resources that ALICE children lack include:

Stable Housing – 52% of children in renter households below the ALICE threshold were rent burdened, paying more than 35% of their household income on rent

Education 37% of preschool aged children below the ALICE Threshold were enrolled in preschool, compared to 58% of their peers above the Threshold and more than 8,050 Michigan children ages 15-17 were not in school; more than half of these teens (59%) lived in households below the ALICE threshold

Health Insurance 4% of children in families below the ALICE threshold did not have coverage, of insured children, 61% of children in families with income below the ALICE Threshold had public insurance, while 88% of children above the Threshold had private insurance

Home Internet – Nearly 300,000 children below the ALICE threshold in Michigan did not have access to high-speed internet at home, impacting access to education, learning support programs, and work

 ALICE in Focus is a national research series using the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS) through the lens of the ALICE measures – the Household Survival Budget and the ALICE Threshold. To view the national results, click here.

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