November 14, 2014
The United Ways of several states, including Indiana, have partnered to produce the ALICE report, and the numbers for Indiana are in. According to the United Way’s website, ALICE stands for asset limited, income constrained, employed, “and represents the population of individuals and families who are working, but are unable to afford the basic necessities of housing, food, child care, health care, and transportation.” The report, focusing on Indiana, was released Monday November 10th, and highlights the struggles Hoosiers face every day to make ends meet.
Do Federal Poverty Levels Need Updating?
The foundation of the report is the notion that the Federal Poverty Guidelines are out of date and inadequate. To quote the report, “Yet the Indiana poverty rate of 14 percent obscures the true magnitude of financial instability in the state. The official U.S. poverty rate, which was developed in 1965, has not been updated since 1974, and is not adjusted to reflect cost of living differences across the U.S.” To better measure the true number of struggling Hoosiers the report attempts to update the poverty guidelines which are currently $23,050 for a family, and $11,170 for a single adult. The United Way, based on the current cost of living in Indiana, created an annual Household Survival Budget and an annual Household Stability Budget. The Survival Budget is absolutely bare bones, and does not allow for any savings. For a family of four the annual Survival Budget is $46,495, and for a single adult it is $17,026. The annual Household Stability Budget is, “one that enables not just survival, but self-sufficiency.” For a family of four in Indiana the annual stability budget is $82,740, and for a single adult it is $22,836.
Many Hoosiers Make Less Than The Household Survival Budget
The number of Hoosiers making less than the annual Survival Budget is staggering. The report states that 922,342 households (37 percent) are below the ALICE threshold, or make less than the annual Survival Budget. How far from the Survival Budget are these households? According to the report, “ALICE and poverty-level households earn only 36 percent of the income needed to reach the ALICE Threshold for basic economic survival.” What’s most disturbing is that even when factoring in government, nonprofit, and health care resources these households, “remain 23 percent short of the income needed to reach the ALICE Threshold.” This means that after applying all of our current aid mechanisms households below the ALICE Threshold collectively fall $7.9 billion dollars short (23 percent) of reaching the ALICE Threshold.
Report Highlights Inequality in Indiana – Women Hurting
The ALICE report is full of interesting statistics about the State. One being, “Sixty-nine percent of all jobs in Indiana pay less than $20 per hour ($40,000 per year if full-time), and more than half (51 percent) pay less than $15 per hour ($30,000 per year if full-time). It goes on to state that in order to reduce the number of ALICE households, “a significant increase in the wages of current jobs or in the number of medium-and high-skilled jobs in both the public and private sectors in Indiana” is necessary. It also highlights income inequality in the State which, “increased by 17 percent from 1979 to 2012.” Currently, if you are in the top 20 percent of wage earners in the State you make 48 percent of all the income. The report notes that if five Hoosiers divided 100.00 based on the current distribution of income in the State then the first person would get 48.00, the second 24.00, the third 15.00, the fourth 9.00, and the last would get 4.00.
Other facts coming from the report expose the wage disparity between women and men in Indiana, which the report believes helps to explain why so many households headed by single women fall below the ALICE Threshold (54 percent). The report says, “Indiana has the sixth-lowest earnings ratio of any state in the country, with women earning just 73 percent of what men earn.” This disparity persists even among those who have achieved educational degrees. “In terms of education, men earn at least 40 percent more than women across all educational levels: the highest earnings gap is 59 percent for those with some college or an associate’s degree.”
Disabled Hoosiers Hit Hard
The ALICE report also highlights the struggles Hoosiers with disabilities face to get by. Disturbingly, “15 percent of people in Indiana have a lasting physical, mental, or emotional disability that impedes them from being independent or able to work.” Not only this, but for those who are working, they tend to make less. According to the report, those who are working with a disability make a median wage of $17,335 compared to the median wage of a non-disabled Hoosier which is $28,484. The report also notes that a household with a disabled member is twice as likely to be in poverty or below the ALICE Threshold.
Finally, from the years 2007 to 2012 the State saw a 39 percent increase in those receiving SSI benefits, a 12 percent increase in those receiving Social Security Income, and a 55 percent increase in those receiving Food Stamps. During this same time Indiana, “against the trend of most states,” saw a decrease in those receiving TANF or GA of 7 percent.
Get Assistance if You’re in Need
These numbers demonstrate the huge portion of Hoosiers struggling to get by. If you or someone you love is having trouble making ends meet, don’t feel like you are alone, or that it is your fault. There are programs that you can utilize to help you through difficult times. A Social Security Disability attorney at Hensley Legal Group can help you understand your options, and will work with you to ensure you get the help you need and deserve. Do you have questions about these programs? Call us today. We never charge for a consultation, and we work on a contingency fee basis which means you don’t pay us unless you get paid. Call today at 1-888-436-7539, or you can reach us via the web. Fill out the ‘Get Help Now’ form, and someone from our office will contact you immediately to discuss your options.