United Way ALICE Report for Iowa

ALICE, Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed, places a spotlight on a large population of hardworking residents who work at low-paying jobs, have little or no savings, and are one emergency away from falling into poverty.

The United Way ALICE Report is the most comprehensive depiction of financial needs in the state to date, using data from a variety of sources, including the US Census. Data is available on the state, county and municipal level. The report unveils new measures, based on present-day income levels and expenses that show how many Iowa workers are struggling financially, and why.

ALICE represents a growing number of individuals and families who are working but are unable to afford the basic necessities of housing, food, childcare, health care and transportation. Although ALICE is earning income, pays taxes and contributes to Iowa’s economy, the household income is not enough to meet a basic survival budget in these categories.


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Key Findings from the 2018 United Way ALICE Report for Iowa


  • Over 450,000 Iowa households - 37% - struggle to afford basic household expenses


  • Federal Poverty Level indicates only 12% of Iowa households faced financial hardship - an ADDITIONAL 25% of households fall below the ALICE Threshold (meeting a household survival budget)


  • ALICE households comprise between 26% (Plymouth Co.) and 52% (Decatur Co.) of the population in every Iowa county


  • More than 40% of senior households fall below the ALICE Threshold


  • Over 100,000 households with children fall below the ALICE Threshold - nearly one-third are in two-parent homes


  • The average annual household Survival Budget for a four-person family in Iowa is $56,772, more than double the Federal Poverty Level for the same family


  • Childcare represents a family's greatest expense - $1,031/month for one infant and one preschooler in licensed and accredited childcare


  • 66% of Iowa jobs pay less than $20/hour; more than half of those pay less than $15 per hour - ($15,000/hour full-time is $30,000 annually)



Download the 2018 ALICE Report for Iowa presented by Alliant Energy.