ALICE, an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, is a new way of defining and understanding the struggles of households that earn above the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to afford a bare-bones household budget.

For far too many families, the cost of living outpaces what they earn. These households struggle to manage even their most basic needs - housing, food, transportation, child care, health care, and necessary technology.

When funds run short, cash-strapped households are forced to make impossible choices, such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent, filling a prescription or fixing the car. These short-term decisions have long-term consequences not only for ALICE families, but for all of us.

We envision a world where all those who work to keep our local economies running can support themselves and their families.

Traditional measures of poverty do not capture the magnitude of people who are struggling financially. Our mission is to make the invisible visible by shining a light on the true number of families struggling in the U.S.

Our new metrics offer a better way to count and understand ALICE, and to ultimately inform policy decisions to affect positive change for this growing portion of our population. Armed with this data, we aim to change the national dialogue about the impact on families, communities, and all of us when financial crisis is the norm for so many.

The rapid spread of COVID-19 exposed critical shortcomings in our economy and in our systems of health care and education. In the midst of this crisis, the ALICE measures show how profoundly the nation’s most vulnerable households are being affected.

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Over the last decade, behind the veneer of a strong economy, conditions have actually gotten worse for millions of families across the U.S. — and that decline set the stage for the dual health and economic crises of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the center of these crises is ALICE: households that are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.

ALICE workers educate our children, keep us healthy, and make our quality of life possible, yet do not earn enough to support their own families. ALICE households have income above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) but not high enough to afford essentials in the communities where they live. As a result, they are forced to make tough choices, such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent, which have long-term consequences not only for ALICE but for all.

In order to better understand this growing population, United For ALICE provides a framework, language, statistics, and tools that community stakeholders can use to inform policy and drive innovation. The Research Center is the hub of — a one-stop source for exploring the latest ALICE data, on a national scale down to the local level in our partner states. Use the tabs below to navigate the Research Center.

Overview of Tennessee

County profiles: Rutherford and Cannon counties