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A.L.I.C.E. Report (Asset Limited, Income Restrained, Employed)

ALICE - A Study of Financial Reality in Missaukee and Wexford Counties

When we discuss where people fall on the economic ladder we generally use the term “below the poverty level” or “above the poverty level.”  According to the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, the Poverty level across the country is $23,850/year for a family of four *.  Sources of public and private assistance for the unemployed in Michigan totals $18,268/year for a family of four **.  

Recently a new data point has been added to the mix.  It’s called ALICE.  ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.  The ALICE model was born in New Jersey by a local United Way in an effort to get a snapshot of what it costs, at a local level, to just get by.  In other words, without any government or private assistance.  ALICE is employed and pays for housing, childcare, food, transportation, health care, taxes, and has very little left over for miscellaneous expenses.  The ALICE data was compiled by Rutgers University.

During the summer of 2014 ALICE came to Michigan.  The same team from Rutgers University compiled data from every county throughout the state to develop an ALICE profile.  Here’s what our ALICE looks like.  This is what it costs to just get by in Missaukee and Wexford Counties.

ALICE (Family of four)















Health Care









Monthly total






Hourly wage ***



We may choose to make the ALICE Report available to key community stakeholders in an effort to raise awareness of the minimum household budget with no outside assistance.

1.      How might the real estate community look at ALICE?

2.      Local manufacturing recently discussed childcare targeted to the needs of their employees.

3.      Is there an opportunity here for the groceries, food pantries and the Food Truck?

4.      Data for the Cadillac Wexford Transit Authority.

5.      Stehouwer Free Clinic.

6.      Data for our local Human Service Leadership Council and their member organizations.

Additional Missaukee County data can be found on page 200 of that report.  Wexford County data is on page 226.

* U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services; 2014 Poverty Guidelines.

** 2014 United Way ALICE Report – Michigan (page 43).  

*** These hourly wages reflect 40 hrs./wk. X 50 weeks.