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2020 Asset Limited, Income Constraint, Employed (ALICE) Report


ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. In Hawaii, there are 148,771 ALICE households (33 %), while another 41,619 households (9 %) live below the poverty level. In total, 42% of Hawaii households are ALICE and below. Aloha United Way commissioned ALICE: A Study of Financial Hardship in Hawai‘i to identify those who are struggling to make ends meet, and to understand the obstacles these families and individuals face.  The latest report has more local variation, variation by household size, and better reflection of household composition. It has also measured a separate Senior Survival Budget and included an ALICE Essentials Index. We have compiled some highlights from the latest HI ALICE Report – take a look!

  • The cost of living is increasing for ALICE households. Cost of essentials increased at an average rate of 3.4% annually nationwide over the past decade, while rate of inflation was 1.8%.
  • While unemployment reached near record lows in 2018, the number of low-wage jobs grew, wage increases were minimal, and job hours, schedules and benefits fluctuated more often. In Hawaii, 53% of workers were paid by the hour, and 51% of jobs paid less than $20/hr.
  • There were more ALICE households than households in poverty , and, as a result of rising costs and stagnant wages, ALICE households rose from 22% in 2017 to 33% in 2018.
  • Households living in poverty remained at around 9% through 2017-2018, most likely because the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) underestimates the number of households that cannot afford to live and work in the modern economy.
  • Asian households and single or cohabiting households made up he largest number of households below ALICE Threshold.  Among families with children, married-parent families were the largest subgroup and accounted 53% of  families with children living below the threshold.
  • Hispanic and Native Hawaiian households (51% and 54% respectively) are the two groups that showed a disproportionately high percentage of households below the threshold.
  • From 1979-2016, the average income for the top 1% increased over five times more than that of the middle 60%, and over three times more than that of the bottom fifth.
  • Among households headed by adults under the age of 25, 87% were  below the ALICE threshold, 50% of University of Hawai‘i at Manoa undergraduates have experienced food insecurity, and 37% reported experiencing moderate to severe hunger.
  • Life expectancy is highest in Honolulu County (82.6 years) where 40% of households are below the threshold, and lowest in Hawai‘i County (80.9 years) where 48% of households are below the threshold.

ALICE household groups by income

This report was sponsored United for ALICE and Aloha United Way with support from the Bank of Hawaii Foundation, the Hawai‘i Community Foundation and Kamehameha Schools. The report is available on Hawaii Health Matters and additional information can be found at UnitedforALICE.org.