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COVID-19 hit as record number of Louisiana ALICE families were priced out of survival

August 6, 2020

Contact: Sarah Berthelot
Louisiana Association of United Ways

To schedule interviews:
Contact Joelle Polisky 615-516-0358
jpolisky@goshiftkey.com  

 

COVID-19 hit as record number of Louisiana ALICE families were priced out of survival

ALICE  Report: More than half of Louisiana families were already struggling to meet survival needs due to rising costs and stagnant wages when the pandemic began

 

Baton Rouge, Louisiana. When COVID-19 hit, more than 576,000 Louisiana households were already one emergency away from financial ruin, a 10-year record high, setting the stage for the economic impact of the crisis — according to the state’s latest ALICE Report, released Aug. 6, 2020, by the Louisiana Association of United Ways, in partnership with United Ways throughout Louisiana and United For ALICE.  

“Before the pandemic, more than one in three Louisiana hard-working households were financially vulnerable — one emergency is all that stood between them and spiraling into a financial crisis,” said Sarah Berthelot, Louisiana Association of United Ways President and CEO. “For many, COVID-19 became that one universal emergency. Without the ability to save or build assets, the job interruptions and income losses have pressed hard against ALICE over the past six months. These Louisiana workers have faced the fears of contracting COVID-19 without adequate healthcare coverage or paid sick leave with very limited or no options to perform work duties virtually. Plus, childcare access and school closures have impacted critical services supporting children.”

With income above the Federal Poverty Level, ALICE households earn too much to qualify as “poor” but are still unable to cover the basics of housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and technology in the parishes where they live. When including households in poverty, there were just over 891,000 households below the ALICE Threshold (ALICE and Poverty combined) in Louisiana before the pandemic…over half of the state’s total population.

Over the course of the last decade, conditions for ALICE have not moved in the right direction. Louisiana’s low-income families systematically lost buying power and financial stability as the rising cost of essentials outpaced wages, driving the number of ALICE households to rise from 23% in 2007 to 33% in 2018. Additionally, the cost of six essentials in Louisiana grew on average 3.4% annually — nearly double the national rate of inflation of 1.8%. In contrast, poverty levels remained largely flat, between 18% and 19% over this same time period.

The Report confirms that in 2018, the cost of survival ranged annually from $24,252 for a single adult, to $27,000 for a senior citizen and $69,732 for a family of four with an infant and a preschooler. Putting this in perspective, the median hourly wage for cashiers, the most common occupation in Louisiana, was $9.10, or $18,200 per year — less than all the budgets.

“This ALICE research provides the backstory for why the COVID-19 crisis is having such a devastating economic impact on families in Louisiana,” said Berthelot.  “Results from the Louisiana United Way COVID 19 Survey conducted this past May painted a vivid picture of the deep financial challenges of families living below the  ALICE Threshold, with 20% concerned about making rent or the mortgage payments as Louisiana entered into the third month of the pandemic crisis.” 

Supplemental to ALICE in Louisiana: A Financial Hardship Study, today (Aug. 6) LAUW also releases the expanded results from the Louisiana United Way COVID19 Survey, conducted in May. These results focus on the COVID-19 impact on those living below the ALICE Threshold, capturing the challenges of ALICE and those living in poverty. Louisiana in the Age of COVID-19: Through the Lens of ALICE, Results from the Louisiana United Way COVID19 Survey is available at www.launitedway.org/ALICE.

Today’s release joins a series of Louisiana-specific research-based reports made possible since 2015 by the Entergy Corporation and United Ways across Louisiana, aimed to equip stakeholders across all sectors to use its findings to remove obstacles to financial stability, identify gaps in community resources and build data-driven solutions to help ALICE families achieve economic stability, bolstering the state’s economy overall.

This is a project in collaboration with the United For ALICE, a grassroots movement of some 650 United Ways in 21 states, corporations and foundations, all using the same methodology to document financial need. 

“As a longtime partner of United Way and the state sponsor of the ALICE report, Entergy's concern for ALICE in Louisiana is growing — especially as the pandemic has only made the road to recovery more difficult for so many," said Patty Riddlebarger, Entergy vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility. "We challenge other companies and organizations to dig into the insights the latest ALICE report provides. We believe that by working together we can identify specific ways to aid communities across the state."

For more information or to find data about ALICE in local communities, visit www.UnitedForALICE.org/Louisiana. On Aug. 6, everyone can view or download a full copy of ALICE in Louisiana: A Financial Hardship Study  at www.launitedway.org/ALICE.

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About Louisiana Association of United Ways

The Louisiana Association of United Ways is an association of nine regional United Ways serving 53 parishes throughout Louisiana. Our mission is to integrate action and resources for the common good. We work across our communities to tackle challenges that affect individuals, families and whole communities — challenges that are ultimately bigger than any of us and impact our entire state. Our association supports statewide coordination and development of the Louisiana 211 Statewide Network. We are part of a global network of more than 1,800 United Ways, servicing communities in 41 countries.

About United For ALICE

United For ALICE is a driver of innovation, shining a light on the challenges ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households face and finding collaborative solutions. Through a standardized methodology that assesses the cost of living in every county, this project provides a comprehensive measure of financial hardship across the U.S. Equipped with this data, ALICE partners convene, advocate, and innovate in their local communities to highlight the issues faced by ALICE households and to generate solutions that promote financial stability. The grassroots movement represents United Ways, corporations, nonprofits and foundations in Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin; we are United For ALICE. For more information, visit: UnitedForALICE.org.

 

QUOTES FROM UNITED WAY LEADERS FROM ACROSS LOUISIANA REGARDING 

THE UPDATED ALICE REPORT

Capital Area United Way:

“With these new ALICE numbers, we can continually assess where the greatest need is in our community. With COVID-19 still impacting our community and recovery from the flood is still ongoing for some people, we can get a better understanding of where we not only need to focus our work but also think of new ideas to benefit our community entirely—both urban and rural.” 

George H. Bell
President  & Chief Executive Officer
Capital Area United Way

Media contact:
Katie A. Pritchett, MSW
Senior Vice President, Impact and Operations
katiep@cauw.org
Phone: 225.346.5805 


St. John United Way

“ALICE families in St. John the Baptist Parish have increased by more than six percent since the last ALICE Report. COVID-19 has made this worse. More than ever, St. John United Way needs to continue to help equip ALICE families with the resources and tools they need to succeed.”

Artis Williams
St. John United Way
Executive Director

Media contact:
Artis Williams
Executive Director
awilliams@stjohnunitedway.org
Phone: 609-841-9145


St. Landry-Evangeline United Way

“The United Way ALICE Report has become the go-to resource for not only United Ways, but for government officials, policy makers, and community partners across the board. The data presented serves as the underpinning for many policies, program design, and initiatives relevant to the needs of our ALICE population.”

Ginger LeCompte
St. Landry-Evangeline United Way
Executive Director

Media contact:
Ginger LeCompte
Executive Director 
glecompte@uwsle.org
Phone: 337-942-7815


 United Way of Acadiana

“United Way of Acadiana has been fighting for ALICE for years. This report reveals the disparities once again, and the impacts of COVID 19 have exacerbated the concerns of many of our most vulnerable families. We are proud to be a part of sharing the needs of ALICE with the communities we serve, as well as our solutions to addressing those challenges we face.”

Carlee Alm-LaBar
President & CEO
United Way of Acadiana 

Media contact:
Elsa Dimitriadis
Community Impact and Communications 
elsa@unitedwayofacadiana.org


United Way of Central Louisiana

“Official poverty data do not tell the whole story of financial insecurity. The ALICE reports give us a much better idea of who struggles to make ends meet, and just how many people fall below the ALICE threshold.”

David T. Britt
United Way of Central Louisiana
President / CEO

Media contact:
David Britt
President / CEO 
britt@unitedwaycenla.org
Phone:  318-443-7203


  United Way of Iberia

“We are so excited to receive our updated information on ALICE in our state and region. Our work is more important than ever — especially as we help ALICE families as much as possible during this time of COVID-19.”

Corleen A Rouly
United Way of Iberia
Executive Director/CEO

Media contact:
Corleen A Rouly
Executive Director/CEO
director@unitedwayofiberia.org
Phone: 337-364-0424


United Way of Northeast Louisiana

“We know that ALICE was already struggling before the deep, financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis. In Northeast Louisiana, we have focused our COVID-19 response on food security and housing stability, both concerns that have risen to the top of the 211 callers since March.”

Janet S. Durden
President
United Way of Northeast Louisiana

Media contact:
Meghan Jones
Marketing and Communications Coordinator 
mjones@unitedwaynela.org
Phone: 318-334-4841


United Way of Northwest Louisiana

“In Northwest Louisiana we have a huge number of citizens working two or more jobs just to make ends meet. The ALICE report helps us to clearly communicate this to all our stakeholders.”

Bruce Willson
United Way Northwest Louisiana
CEO

Media contact:
Tori Thomas
VP of Resource Development
tori@unitedwaynwla.org
Phone: 318-677-2504 


United Way Southeast Louisiana

“The disparities outlined in the ALICE Report and amplified by COVID-19 have exposed the extreme vulnerability of our region. Fortunately, our United Way was built for this moment, and, with our generous donors’ support, we will continue our laser-focus on initiating the programs, collaborations, and advocacy efforts necessary to build a more stable and equitable Southeast Louisiana for us all.”

Michael Williamson
United Way Southeast Louisiana
President and CEO

Media contact:
Kirby Jane Nagle
Public Information Officer 
kirbyn@unitedwaysela.org
Phone: 501-697-0415


United Way of Southwest Louisiana

“The global pandemic coronavirus has certainly brought unprecedented attention to the aches and pains of our ALICE friends and neighbors. Our response has been calculated toward their needs and we know this newest study will only help us intensify those efforts. We are truly committed to the recovery of the ALICE community, as well as all of Southwest Louisiana.”

Denise Durel
United Way of Southwest Louisiana
President and CEO

Media Contact:
Tami D. Chrisope
Director of Marketing & Communications
United Way of Southwest Louisiana
Phone: 337-433-1088 x222  | Fax: 337-433-3679

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