Covid-19 & alice part 1

Who is alice?

If you follow Greater Ottawa County United Way through the community impact journey then the name ALICE most likely registers with you as we speak on this philosophy created by the United Way. Who is ALICE? ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, & Employed. This individual is above the Federal Poverty Level but below the Household Survival Budget.

Which sectors of employment does ALICE occupy? Lower-wage jobs Any lower wage job is likely to find themselves part of the ALICE population, and this group is important to keeping the community running on a daily basis. These individuals face obstacles including no savings for emergencies or for investing in their future through education, home ownership, and retirement. Although wages are rising, necessary expenses are rising faster.

Before we discuss how ALICE individuals have been negatively effected by the COVID-19 pandemic, let us first review key terms related to ALICE households.


covid-19 crisis & alice

The following are the obstacles that various demographics face right now here in Ottawa County…

The number of ALICE households will increase as the mitigation efforts continue for the Coronavirus. Inequalities are exacerbated by the pandemic through the following:

1. Rising unemployment

2. Closed businesses

3. Halted production of goods/services

School closures have a significant impact on families with children and college students

•Disruption to normal life – meals, socialization, learning

•For some children, school is their one safe place

•Having children at home limits parents’ ability to work

•Digital divide – gap in access to internet and technology

•College students – online learning challenges, loss of housing/meals, jobs

•Many school and college staffers are ALICE workers

Seniors: The Most Vulnerable Age Group

Almost half of seniors are below the ALICE Threshold and face unique challenges

•Stock market decline will reduce retirement funds

•Seniors often live in group quarters with higher infection risk

•Delays in non-essential care cause/exacerbate health issues

•Increased isolation

•Restricted visiting to senior housing

•Closure of senior centers

•ALICE caregivers, paid and unpaid

•More responsibility, fewer supports

•Disrupted medication supply chain

ALICE Essential Workers: Low-Wage, High-Risk

Essential Workers are at Risk

•Many ALICE jobs are critical now; workers vulnerable to illness

•Health care workers

•Grocery store clerks

•Limited protective gear

•Many essential workers also have additional family caregiving responsibilities

•No safety net = no choice but to work

•Higher levels of stress

ALICE Non-Essential Workers

Non-essential workers face job insecurity

•Half of jobs are hourly paid – most vulnerable

•Many households don’t have savings to withstand reduced income

•Digital divide – gap in who can work from home

•Unemployment reaching new levels

•Even more ALICE jobs not captured in unemployment statistics

•Self-employed, “side-hustles”

•Infrastructure maintenance being deferred, will cause problems in the future

•Will take months/years to ramp up infrastructure jobs

Alice households were already vulnerable to hardship long before the effects of COVID-19 mitigation began. The effects of COVID-19 mitigation only compound the problems for ALICE households across the Greater Ottawa County. Stay tuned for part 2 of the “Coronavirus & Alice” blog series where we dive deeper into the health forecasts of COVID-19 and what they mean for ALICE individuals and households.

To learn more about ALICE read the full Michigan report here, and the Ottawa report here. To contribute your time and money toward ALICE individuals and households in Ottawa County please visit Greater Ottawa County United Way’s website to learn more.

Live United,

Greater Ottawa County United Way