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New report highlights disparities across the state counties

Posted at 3:04 PM, Jun 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-16 17:04:42-04

BOISE — A new United Way report shows statewide data on employment, income, and related factors. It's called ALICE, which stands for asset limited, income constrained, and employed. In other words, the working poor.

Over the last decade, in Idaho, the number of ALICE families combined with the number of families in poverty has gone up 86 percent.

It was starting to flatten out, but then the COVID crisis hit.
The report highlights many disparities counties across the state face.

40% of Idahoans are either at the ALICE threshold or in poverty. Unemployment numbers are higher statewide as well.

"You can see here the families in Idaho with children in 2018, married, single-female, single-male, head household, you can definitely see that when we disaggregate this data, certain populations rise to the top of having much more trouble meeting their basic needs for the month to month," said Jim Cooper, President & CEO of United Way of the Pacific Northwest.

Cooper says COVID-19 has changed the current trends.

"Before COVID, all of the families that were above that threshold were one car break down or broken appliance away from not being able to keep their home, and you know COVID is that crisis for so many families, even if they're on unemployment," Said Cooper.

The report also shows equity and race as a big part of the picture. In Idaho, a higher number of Black, Hawaiian and Hispanic households are below the threshold.

"I don't think there's any place in the country where this conversation isn't happening," said Cooper.

There's also a map this year that shows internet access across the state. It shows Ada County at 37% below the ALICE threshold, and nearly 82% of people have internet access. In Bonner County, it's 44% below the threshold, and only 75% have access to the internet.

The report says lack of access translates to things like reduced job and educational opportunities.

"I think this is something that's been really highlighted in the COVID crisis, I've heard many people say rural broadband is a thing and we need it because so many workers are trying to work from home and don't have access to the modern needs of the world," said Cooper.

It's also important to look at the cost of living and the labor force. As of 2018, over 57,000 jobs paid less than ten dollars an hour.

"Some might say ALICE lives paycheck to paycheck, but we think of ALICE as our essential working population, even before we had the term essential workers," said Nora Carpenter, president of United Way of Treasure Valley.

To view the full report, click here.