The United Way of Lamar County recently received the data for Lamar County that was compiled in the ALICE study conducted by the United Ways of Texas.

ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed – households that earn more than the Federal Poverty Level but less than the basic cost of living.

Twenty-five percent of households in Lamar County are ALICE compared with 28 percent in the state of Texas. Moreover, 20 percent of households in Lamar County are living in poverty. The median household income in Lamar County is $40,283 compared to the state average of $56,565.

Those households facing the biggest challenge are single female-headed families with 62% in Lamar County below the poverty level and 23 percent identified as ALICE. In comparison, 38 percent of singe male-headed families are below the poverty level and 26 percent are ALICE.

The ALICE Household Survival Budget reflects the bare minimum that a household needs to live and work today.  The study used conservative estimates on monthly expenses for housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, basic technology, and taxes.

In Lamar County, a single adult would need an annual income of $19,392 or $9.70 an hour to survive, with the single biggest monthly expense being housing, averaging $547 a month.

A family of four with two children would require an annual income of $48,372 or an hourly wage of $24.19 to survive.  The biggest monthly expense for families is childcare.  The average monthly childcare cost is $833.  This is followed by healthcare at $726, then housing at $664, transportation costs at $644 and food at $525.

Jenny Wilson, Executive Director of the United Way of Lamar County, explains “ALICE workers are people we know and rely on every day from retail clerks to restaurant workers to home health aides to mechanics.  There is the misconception that if you are employed you are fine. But we have a growing number of individuals and families who are working, yet still unable to afford the basic necessities of housing, food, child care, health care and transportation.  And that doesn’t take in any extras like birthday or Christmas presents, car or home repairs or entertainment.”

The ALICE methodology was conceived to develop real-time data on income and expenses, establishing a more comprehensive analysis of the state of financial instability in our communities. Started in 2009 in New Jersey, the ALICE Project now has 17 participating states.

For more information on the ALICE study in Texas and to see all the data on each county, visit the United Ways of Texas website at uwtexas.org

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