The United Way is undertaking an ALICE project in Maryland – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. It’s part of a nationwide study of those struggling in America and, in our case, an effort to identify what’s unique about Maryland. I’m on the Research Advisory Committee for the project here because of Maryland Family Network’s command of the data about child care, both the supply and demand.
As it turns out, child care is the highest cost in what’s referred to as “the ALICE budget” in Maryland. Here’s how the preliminary numbers are looking:
|Category||Average Monthly Expense for a Family of Four|
The monthly total of $5,355 equals an annual salary of $64,249, or an hourly wage of $32.12. The Federal Poverty Level for a family of four in Maryland is $23,550. The Maryland minimum wage is $8.25 an hour, or $16,500 per year.
In addition to the Federal Poverty Level, which is based on outdated family budget assumptions, and the ALICE budget, there is the Survival budget, the MIT budget, the Economic Policy Institute budget, the Stability budget, and others. All of them demonstrate the disparity between a working family’s income and the cost of living. The United Way advocates that the ALICE budget become the new Federal Poverty Level budget.
New Jersey looked at public assistance and the difference it makes to ALICE families. Taking into consideration the Earned Income Tax Credit, nonprofit human services, cash assistance from food stamps, SSI, and TANF, various government job programs, health care through Medicaid and charity care, there is still an “unfilled gap” between the ALICE budget and family income from all sources of 34% of the total needed to support a four-person family in New Jersey.
No wonder so many Americans are in debt, can’t save, and are worried about the future. For more details go to unitedwayalice.org.