SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) - A new report shows 36 percent of Illinois households have incomes below the state's cost of living.

That is according to the report "ALICE in Illinois: A Financial Hardship Study.” It was funded by the United Way of Illinois and led by Dr. Stephanie Hoopes, Director of the ALICE project, a national research initiative. 

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

Of Illinois’ 4,817,547 households, 12 percent earn below the Federal Poverty Level and another 24 percent are ALICE households.

“People living below the ALICE Threshold live and work in our communities, but struggle to stay afloat financially,” said Sue Grey, Board Chair of United Way of Illinois and President and CEO of United Way of Champaign County. “Low wages, the need to string together multiple part-time or contract jobs to get sufficient working hours, and the high cost of living in our state mean that many working people, from cashiers to cleaners, aren’t making enough to get by. This impacts all of us, as people living below the ALICE Threshold do not have the disposable income to support and drive the state economy.”  

The Household Survival Budget for two adults and two young children requires one full-time income at an hourly wage of $28.57, but 56 percent of jobs in Illinois pay less than $20 per hour. 

In 2007, 31 percent of Illinois households were below the ALICE Threshold. By 2017, that number was 36 percent. In Chicago, 43 percent of households are below the ALICE Threshold. 

"The United Way's critical report on the hardship facing so many Chicagoans fills an important data gap on the working families throughout our city struggling to make ends meet every day,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “Their challenge is our City's challenge, and my team will partner with United Way's leadership to advance our shared agenda to end economic hardship and grow and strengthen the middle class in Chicago.”

ALICE households are made up of people of all ages, races and ethnicities, and educational levels, but the report shows Black and Hispanic households are more likely than White and Asian households to be below the ALICE threshold. 

“This problem can’t be solved with one change, because the high cost of living is driven by many factors,” Grey said. “Government agencies, nonprofits, communities and businesses need to work together to create change that improves the quality of life for the ALICE population and our communities across Illinois as a whole.” 

To view the full report, including a county-by-county breakdown of the data, click HERE​.

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