NELA, La. (KNOE) - A new Louisiana Association of United Ways report shows 48-percent of people in the state aren’t financially stable.
Their third ALICE report shows Northeast Louisiana is among the highest rates of households at or below the ALICE threshold. ALICE stands for “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.” People living at or below the ALICE threshold are living just above the poverty line, but are still struggling to survive.
Out of the 18 states with ALICE reports, Louisiana ranks third with the highest number of people at or below the ALICE threshold.
“The research has shown that nationwide, Louisiana has the highest of ALICE threshold and below,” says Janet Durden, the President of United Way of Northeast Louisiana.
Researchers studied all costs of living, like child care and health care, to come up with their ALICE threshold. "What ALICE does, is say let's forget the food budget, the food budget is important, but let's look at the actual cost of living for a family,” says Dr. Robert Eisenstadt, a member of the report’s Advisory Committee.
Durden says those living just at the ALICE threshold or below, are one accident or natural disaster away from slipping into poverty. "The least thing can get people off track with no savings, and the car breaks down then how do I get to work?” says Durden.
She says the floods of 2016 are to blame for an increase in ALICE numbers since the last report in 2016.
Durden says the numbers in Ouachita Parish are looking worse than those across the state. "The state of Louisiana as we said, 48% are at ALICE or below, but when looking at Ouachita parish the number is 58% at ALICE below, which is significantly more,” says Durden.
East Carroll Parish has 75% of households at or below ALICE levels, which is the highest in the state.
Economists say these numbers are due to a lack of high paying jobs, and wages staying the same while goods and services rise in price. "We’re starting out a little behind the eight ball, we've got a higher than average poverty, federal poverty, level,” says Eisenstadt.
Durden says even though the report is negative, it's giving a voice to those living between the poverty line and the ALICE threshold. “They appreciate having a voice, and being identified and being recognized for how hard they're working and yet how hard it is to stay on track,” says Durden.
Durden says anyone in the state can call 2-1-1 and get help finding services that will help them. You can see the full report at https://www.unitedwayalice.org/louisiana.